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Salt Workers Unhappy Over Years Of ‘Blatant Disrespect’

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

MORTON Salt workers yesterday threw support behind an impending three-day union strike following what they described as years of “blatant disrespect” from the company.

According to Jennifer Brown, President of the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU), employees were fed up that Morton Salt has refused to negotiate the conditions of an industrial agreement. Labourers at the salt plant, in Mathew Town, Inagua, she said, have been operating without an agreement for the last five years.

Ms Brown was speaking yesterday at the House of Labour on Wulff Road where Trade Union Congress (TUC) executives reiterated threats to shut down the country’s operations in an effort to gain the government’s attention to long-standing issues.

Despite continuous meetings with Labour Minister Shane Gibson, TUC officials insisted that industrial action is coming.

“The leaders as well as the members (of the BIMAWU),” Ms Brown said, “are suffering and they are disrespected. The Department of Labour has not been able to cause an agreement to be negotiated between Morton and the BIMAWU. Both Labour and the tribunal seem incapable of bringing this matter to closure. 

“I say disrespect because they realise that we don’t have a signed agreement. They tend to treat employees whichever way they want to. Right now we have variation of the work week which is one of the issues we have with the company. They will call you today tell you that your work week has changed and you have to come to work tomorrow. You are expected to do that. They do what they have to do without union consultation and advise you afterwards. Sometimes they don’t even advise you.

“With the contract the employees want their wage increased. We were negotiating since last year and then we had an issue come up at the company. They refused to continue the negotiations until the results of whatever the tribunal says. So although it’s law, they are still waiting on what the tribunal says. It’s not fair to the workers.”

Wilfred Seymour, the BIMAWU vice-president, called on Mr Gibson to exercise his power with a view to bringing the issues to a close.

However, Mr Gibson told The Tribune yesterday that the government could only advise both sides to negotiate in good faith because it was a private matter.

“There is nothing in law that gives the government the authority to force an employer to negotiate,” he said. “You are asking the government to interfere in private sector business.

“Have the union referred to any section of the law where it says the government has the authority to instruct either side. If they want to see the law change they can agitate for that, but it would mean that if the government instructs one side they have to instruct the other side.

“The most we can do is urge both sides to negotiate in good faith.”

As for when the three-day strike will take place, union officials still had no confirmation yesterday. More than 24 affiliate unions, which equates to several thousand workers, would withdraw their labour if a strike happens, officials said.

Attempts to reach Morton Salt were unsuccessful up to press time.

Comments

BahamianAway 5 years, 4 months ago

I swear Bahamians are sometimes the stupidest bunch of people. They always agitating about the wrong shiite. Morton Salt has been operation in Inagua for years and it's the only thing that little piece of island has going as far as good solid employment for the residents. Why jeopardize that because niggas cannot ever be satisfied. Strikes are not the only way to resolve issues...

Personally I wish Morton Salt fires all of them who strike and shut down the whole factory. Then niggas will be complaining about how Morton shut down with no warning and left them jobless and the government need to help because they have children to feed and bills to pay.

I just don't understand the mentality of the common Bahamian person....

Yet you don't see niggas holding strikes cause the government reneged on promises made, or because crime is through the roof. Nah they good with that...let the government feed them a bunch of lies and propaganda not a peep.

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Emac 5 years, 4 months ago

That's because the government always pamper these idiots! In return they always give the government a get out of jail for free card, while they try to drain every drop of money from the private companies. Most Bahamians still have that slave mentality. Perhaps some a dem need to go back to pickin' cotton.

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FattCatt 5 years, 4 months ago

Agreed.http://s04.flagcounter.com/count//kfo..." height="1" width="1" />

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 4 months ago

The people of Inagua should visit South Long Island, South Eleuthera etc and see what happens when a foreign company is pressured to pay more government taxes, submit to union pressure, survive employee pilferage and natural disasters ........... and make a profit for its parent company.

Its very challenging in The Bahamas. Just look at ALL of the projects that have failed throughout this country since Independence as a result of government and union interference.

Inagua and Morton have had a tenuous relationship ever since its establishment back in the 1930s.......... Morton has used the "divide and conquer" strategy very well to maintain control.......... There is nothing like the white man's Uncle Tom. It works well in The Bahamas

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BahamianAway 5 years, 4 months ago

It's because Bahamians have always had this mentality that the "white" man is better and they will help him capitalize on Bahamian resources and then when it gets to a point they will turn.

Bahamians have no loyalty everyone seeks to please themselves, from the government straight on down to the lowly person selling fruit on the roadside. It is sad but true, Bahamians are a bunch of bandwagoners with a gimme gimme attitude, and they become disgruntle and jealous when they see the next person profit.

They will agitate and go about handling the situation in a disgraceful way that will only lead to bad things minding people who don't even live in Inagua or whose primary source of income has nothing to do with Morton Salt. Mind- they following these union people talking about strike and walk out and such but I could almost bet money the people running the union don't work for Morton and rely on them for making ends meet. A classic case of cutting of your nose to spite your face...then when they sitting at home because Morton Plant closed they want to first blame the government.

I feel they can negotiate better salaries and terms of employment without strike and involving this inept government in a privately owned company business.

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