Categorized | National News

Union: Minister’s Threat Won’t Delay Strike

Bahamas Customs Immigration Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) Vice President Sloane Smith said despite whatever threats Labour Minister Shane Gibson dishes out, the union is still moving ahead with plans to take strike action.

Minister Gibson told the Journal recently that if customs workers go on strike their salaries will be cut and added that the government will not be bullied on the issue.

However, at a press conference held Tuesday, Mr. Smith said neither will they.

“From the comments we’ve heard coming from Minister Gibson, it is quite disappointing because here it is somebody who comes out of the womb of labour understanding that you have thousands of clerical workers all throughout this country,” he said.

“The signal and the message being sent is simply an atrocious position. How can you discredit or seek to dismiss the thousands of Bahamians, specifically those in the Customs and Immigration departments? In fact what are the ministers trying to say about the workers who are the supervisors to an extent of over a half a billion dollars worth of revenue?”

Mr. Smith also responded to the minister’s suggestion to replace custom workers with defence force officers if a strike occurs.

He added, the union is not taking too kindly to what he describes as alleged threats coming from the Ministry of Immigration And Foreign Affairs.

“Threats of cutting salaries if in fact it is the case, well what else is are you going to do, put us across your knees and spank us?” he said.

“We’re not intimidated by that, the union has resources and we will do what we have to do but we will do it in accordance with the law and we encourage the government to do it in accordance with the law.”

The union filed a trade dispute with the government back in October.

The dispute addresses medical coverage and payment of utility bills and transportation allowances for non-uniformed workers, among other concerns.

Mr. Smith said the government has proven that they are not prepared to negotiate so a strike vote is the next step to take.

Approximately 1,100 members are expected to vote on the strike poll this Friday and Mr. Smith said he expects the poll to be successful.

Mr. Smith said once the strike certificate is obtained the union will consult its members to determine when and if strike action will take place.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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