By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government announced yesterday a reversal of their decision to implement a new medical insurance package for law enforcement officers.
With immediate effect, the move comes after the Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) in collaboration with other labour unions expressed concern that the new package was insufficient by comparison to their previous medical coverage. The matter caused contention among the unions, which threatened to strike.
In a statement released to the media, it was said that officials reinstated the initial plan after meeting with a number of representatives. However, when contacted for comment on the changes, Sloan Smith, vice-president of the BCIAWU said he was unaware of the changes.
He told The Tribune to contact the union’s lawyer Obie Ferguson, who up to press time could not be reached. Mr Smith reiterated that the new medical package did more harm than good for workers.
“I was not made aware that they reversed the insurance plan,” said Mr Smith.
“But when you look at the degree to which they are calling it better it is really a smoke screen. The honourable Prime Minister and those know full well that it is not a better package, it is not better in anyway. And no amount of political posturing will change that.”
The new plan, among other things, gave law enforcement employees a $2 million insurance cap, which is a huge jump from the $250,000 previously offered.
The government’s statement said: “Officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Public Services invited representatives of the employees of Security Forces, Fisheries Department and Road Traffic Uniformed Officers enrolled in the Bahamas Government Security Forces Group Medical Plan to discuss recent changes in the Plan.
“The representatives were informed that the Government has reinstated the old medical plan, with immediate effect.
“The representatives were further informed that this change will result in a reduction in benefits for newborn babies with congenital illnesses, persons currently receiving chiropractic care and physiotherapy and for persons who are currently hospitalized and paying room and board charges.”
On Tuesday Mr Christie told reporters that he had no objection with allowing the employees to have the old insurance scheme.
“Notwithstanding the fact that I am advised that there is a superior package, I have no difficulty whatsoever of being able to give them what they had.
“It would have implications to the loss of certain benefits that they would have had as a result of the new regime. But I have no difficulty whatsoever with them wanting to revert to the position they were in,” Mr Christie said.