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Government approves BEC double dipping

By PACO NUNEZ

Tribune News Editor

pnunez@tribunemedia.net

THE government has officially sanctioned the practice of “double dipping” by BEC employees, reversing an order to withhold the salary of workers already collecting NIB sick benefits, union leader Stephano Greene announced yesterday.

Government information officers also confirmed that any money deducted from BEC workers in connection with this issue over the last few months will be repaid, with payments beginning today.

Declaring victory in his battle with BEC chairman Leslie Miller, who opposed the double sick leave payments, Mr Greene said the decision came after a “very good” meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis.

In the end, he said, the issue came down to the question of fairness.

“The government looked at it and saw it was the same benefit as over 20,000 workers – at the Ministry of Works, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Labour – also get,” Mr Greene said. “They realised it would be unfair to pick on us.”

But chairman Mr Miller has also claimed the moral high-ground, denouncing the ability of BEC workers to collect nearly double their salary while the wider public continues to struggle with unemployment and a high cost of living.

After Mr Miller raised the issue, The Tribune revealed that double dipping of this kind is in fact a common practice across most of the 24,000-strong public service, costing the public as much as $10 million a year.

Critics lashed out at the practice, calling it a temptation for workers to commit fraud by playing sick in an effort to collect nearly twice their normal salary.

But the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) insisted that it is part of BEC workers’ contractual agreement with the government.

Yesterday, Mr Greene thanked BEWU members for supporting the union leadership during its row with Mr Miller.

“On behalf of the executive, I want to thank members for standing by us while we addressed this.

“We know that as long as we are right, they will support us,” he said.

In officially siding with the union, The Tribune understands the Deputy Prime Minister was acting on the instructions of Prime Minister Perry Christie.

Previously, Mr Davis had expressed support for Mr Miller when asked about the row, calling him “my chairman”.

And, it is understood that he did not attend a meeting between Mr Christie and union leaders several weeks ago.

BEC chairman Mr Miller was not available for comment yesterday.

Comments

ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Stop the BS BEWU, Shane Gibson has already stated there is NO such clause in your contract. This is fraud clear and simple

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JohnDoe 9 years, 2 months ago

We may have strong feelings about this, but using this type of language is unfortunate because the practice may be called many things, however, fraud it is not.

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ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Yes we've had the discussion before. My stand, NIB is insurance against lost wages due to sickness. The intent of the plan is clear. If an employee has not lost wages and they claim the benefit in my estimate, that is fraud. You may call it a twilight-zone government approved loophole.

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JohnDoe 9 years, 2 months ago

Well then we need to advocate for an amendment to the law. I am prepared to meet you in Rawson square tomorrow with my placard to start our campaign.

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ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

We need better organization than that. We need to line Bay St, I'll do that with you.

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ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Campaign slogan "We Are Tired Too"

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John 9 years, 2 months ago

NOW YOU SEE they aint tryng to do no better and improve things in this country. We need a national gold T shirt DAY. hANG THEM (DA SHIRTS) ON YA LINE AND BURN THEM!...NEVER HAD ONE, NEVER WILL!.

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JohnDoe 9 years, 2 months ago

This is an excellent point Rory. From a personnel and compensation perspective the real issue with BEC, and in fact most of the civil service, is that they need to be introduced to the 21st century with respect to their HR practices. Most of these government corporations and ministries, some of which have been in existence for over half a century, either have no or totally inadequate performance appraisal and evaluation systems. As a result the top performers are treated no differently or in some cases are treated worse than the poor performers. There is no clear demarcation between skilled and unskilled workers. Advancement is based on who you sweethearting, which political party you support or who is your family. Because compensation is not based on performance then the government have to throw in all kind of irrational perks to level the playing field and there are no disincentives for negative behavior.

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dondem23 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't like the implications of this. There are (reportedly) 24,000 government employees who double dip and I do mean 'double dipping'. Our NIB insurance is intended to supplement/ mitigate against employers having to pay employees - that's why employers pay 5.8%. It is also intended to support or provide a hedge for employees who are sick, when (legitimate) deductions are made for sick leave.

If the ruling is to allow 'double dipping', then the question has to be what about the 50,000 private employees (not counting the 40,000 unemployed) who have been receiving reduced pay from their employers from inception? Is this the precedent we wish to establish? What are the implications for private sector employers? What do we now tell the private sector workers, who have been forced to apply for the NIB benefit to compensate for the deduction.

In other words, those of us in the private sector, who are basically paying the public servants, have to stand around and accept that we can only expect to (correctly) receive 100% pay while our public-sector counterparts 'double dip'.

Where is the equity? With this newly established precedent at hand, can we seek and claim our retroactive 'double-dipping' benefits?

I love my country and my fellow Bahamians to death but we cannot afford to allow greed and selfish inequitable behavior to continue to hold us hostage. We have a country to build and a hurting economy to sustain.

**

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Bahamianpride 9 years, 2 months ago

its all about the votes, all about the votes.....Union members and there family have enough votes to change elections...result they get taken cared off despite the fact that this behavior is criminal..

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B_I_D___ 9 years, 2 months ago

Well..they cannot dictate that only a certain portion of employees can 'double dip'...it's all or none...so game on...my 200 plus private staff are being advised to go double dip...thanks to the government everyone just got raises!!

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Bahamianpride 9 years, 2 months ago

These idiots have created a huge problem by allowing this, if everyone does this national security will go broke.. What a foolish precedence to set..

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B_I_D___ 9 years, 2 months ago

Yup...the only government agency that is actually not losing money will be bankrupt in short order!! Glad I have my own private pension plan and retirement plan as I know when my turn comes around to retire, my NIB benefits/pension will be non-existent.

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4renbahamian 9 years, 2 months ago

My 87 employees can now go to NIB and collect sick benefits after they are paid by me for sick leave, this government has started some shit now. Plus the employees who collected from from NIB only can now come back to me for their full pay. Boy I am waiting.

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crabman 9 years, 2 months ago

2+2=9 and you wonder why we are all suffering higher living expenses

so far the talk here is a good game but will you vote to make a change

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ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

I voted. I also voted no to webshops. This must be divine punishment

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ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

I wonder what the IMF is thinking watching the crack decision making skills and fiscal prudence at work...

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bcitizen 9 years, 2 months ago

This public worker double dipping is bothering me allot. The NIB is meant to help sick people while they cannot work as a back up when ill so they are not destitute. If you pay people their full salary and they collect NIB sick pay then they have more incentive to take sick days than to go to work. It is more profitable to call in sick! What logical person (forget morals) would not take advantage of this? If a private company feels like they can afford their employees such a benefit then great. They would also quickly reign in abusive employees. The government being the employer cannot afford this. They are broke! Any private company who was operating in the hole would immediately end such excessive benefits to ensure that the persons job is preserved in the long run. They do not have the option of robbing other people to pay such excess. GIVE ALL PRIVATE COMPAINES THE ABILITY TO TAX EVERYONE WITHIN 10 MILES OF THEIR HEADQUARTERS.

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clawdad 9 years, 2 months ago

the end is near.only in the bahamas.

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ThisIsOurs 9 years, 2 months ago

Everywhere that man shows up corruption follows...but that might be a little unfair since corruption is so widespread . Might be more correct to say everywhere he shows up corruption explodes. What a name to have, the King must be proud.

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The_Oracle 9 years, 2 months ago

Government and Unions are the two lynch pins of corruption. Removal of either one would save a fortune. Every Govt Admin since Burma Road has treated unions like the unruly dangerous child, better give him what he wants. When that comes at the expense of someone else it is immoral, and seems now to be criminality accepted. These fools seem not to understand that a crime committed is a crime committed, the free pass on petty crime has evolved into a free pass on any crime!

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nassaudaddy 9 years, 2 months ago

Brave Davis and Perry Christie are less than men when it comes to standing up with a pair of what makes men. They cannot ever be strong leaders because they bend and break when the going gets a little rough. A strong leader is one who takes on challenges head on and makes strong decisions when they have to. The should have taken the Job they have because it was hard and not easy. The vast majority of the Bahamian people are against the double dipping and yet they would go against the masses. Only punks do those things

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Greentea 9 years, 2 months ago

once again a chance to change the entire policy across the board - through act of law - and do something good for the country and what do these jokers do? give in to the demand of hostage takers. This may seem an extreme statement but weren't these folks threatening to shut down power across the country if the government and BEC didn't give in? Holding folks hostage to their demands? Watch out Brave and Perry- Miller might have suddenly become righteous, but the people on his side on this one. Ya'll gonna need his seat in a couple years. But I am beginning to think he might be able to win it back without ya'll.

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