By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
EXECUTIVES in the customs and immigration union yesterday denied claims that the union was "hired" by the PLP to strike and hurt the FNM's chances at the polls.
Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) Vice-President Sloane Smith said the industrial action carried out by the union was in response to neglect by the government and not "some secret deal with the PLP".
Mr Smith's comments came after a document purporting to be a conversation between BCIAWU Shop Steward Renaldo Collie and a PLP operative went viral yesterday.
The document alleges that Mr Collie and the union orchestrated the three week strike by customs and immigration officers earlier this month to damage the FNM ahead of the May 7 election.
In the conversation that was sent to The Tribune, Mr Collie appears to be upset that future plans for customs officers were not included in the PLP's newly released "Vision 2030."
It alleges that union members "put their jobs on the line" to protest against the government, only to be overlooked by the PLP.
Mr Smith admitted that he heard the allegations, but denied any involvement by heads of the union.
"Someone told me they heard the same story. I rejected it then and I am rejecting it now. We are not affiliated with any political party. Mr Collie is not an executive in the union, he is just a regular officer," he said.
"He does not speak for the union. Mr Collie's position has nothing to do with us. If he was promising people favours from the PLP to join the union, that is on him but we had nothing to do with it. Whatever he said in his private conversation has nothing to do with us. I categorically reject any claims that the union staged the protest to get at the FNM for the PLP."
Mr Collie also denied being in collusion with the PLP and also denied having a conversation with PLP operatives regarding union issues.
"They are printing bogus information. There is a conspiracy against me to silence me and destroy my credibility ... It is not secret that I am a PLP. However, I have never sat with anyone in the union to convert them to the PLP. My political persuasion is separate from union business. The FNM is getting desperate, first the Prime Minister is talking about holograms, now there are secret conspiracies to bring down the government. It's ridiculous."
Mr Collie said he has an idea who the person is who "created this fictional conversation" and is seeking legal action.
He said he was advised to lay low until after elections to see if everything blows over.
In regard to his frozen accounts he said if something does not happen soon he is taking the issue to court.
Customs and Immigration officers were ordered back to work last week after a lengthy strike. Their labour dispute was referred to the Industrial Tribunal and is expected to be heard on May 11.