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Union Leader Supports Government Over Changes To Nation’S Labour Laws

Paul Maynard

Paul Maynard

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard yesterday backed the government’s proposed amendments to the country’s labour laws, calling the gripes expressed by business owners an over reaction to necessary change.

In an interview with The Tribune, the outspoken unionist applauded the efforts of the government to “protect Bahamians”, insisting that those opposing the moves are simply, “childish and stupid”.

Employers across the country have expressed opposition to the proposed changes since the amendments were tabled in the House of Assembly last Wednesday.

Tribune Business on Monday reported that the nation’s biggest employers, including some of the largest hotels, are mulling whether to impose a wages and hiring freeze in retaliation for the government’s decision to force the amendments “down our throats”.

This followed reports that The Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant

Employers Association (BHREA) planned to meet to form a workable strategy and way forward, declaring this issue is a must-win battle.

In response, Mr Maynard said yesterday: “This is a redundancy situation to make it better for when you are leaving. This is does not affect the bottom line unless you lay people off. How will this affect? How will it have a crippling impact?”

“They crying wolf? The sky is not falling?”

He continued: “They complained about minimum wage being raised too. What are they crying for? They are only thinking of themselves, no one else.”

Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller referred to The Tribune Business article during the evening session of the House on Monday.

Mr Miller cautioned the government over the proposed amendments, seeming to side with employers, suggesting that “serious repercussions” could occur if the Christie administration could not find a middle ground between the proposed amendments and current laws.

“I am not trying to take sides in this, I want to be fair,” Mr Miller said.

“I want us to realise what could happen tomorrow. I am just simply saying don’t go beyond the (point) of no return. The road is not good, and don’t think that these people don’t have power. Don’t fool yourself.

He continued: “We can do anything in here and they may say ‘you are shoving it down my throat’ and they make you pay a cost.”

Of Mr Miller’s plea, Mr Maynard said: “Leslie Miller, he is a goddamn liar, he is childish, he messed up BEC and he needs to get over it and stop wearing panties and put on underpants. He is childish and stupid.”

Said Mr Maynard: “This is just for protection for people if they are made redundant, so it’s not going to harm the business, tell them stop lying, unless they plan on making someone redundant and if they do it then they should pay people fairly. The point is if people are made redundant you must pay the price.”

“The unions are not unreasonable; I am reasonable there is nothing wrong with this bill you have to protect Bahamians, you cannot just get rid of people and not pay them.

“Properly evaluate your staff every year,” he said, “and if they fall short deal with them. But do not just fire a bunch of people because you don’t like them and make them redundant.”

The amendments to the Employment Act seek to address redundancy pay to employees; options for rehiring in times of redundancies; and the implementation of provisions that protect employees in the event of being made redundant.

Additionally, the government aims to implement a new 32-week cap for line staff employed up to 12 years with an employer.

Line staff are currently entitled to a maximum 24 weeks or six months redundancy pay under the Employment Act, gaining two weeks for each year they have been employed up to the 12-year ‘cap’.

However, the amendment requires the ‘cap’ to be increased to 32 weeks (16 years) immediately upon enactment of the reforms. And, ultimately, the ‘cap’ for line staff redundancy pay is to be increased to 40 weeks some two years after the amendments are passed.

As for managerial staff, redundancy pay would go from the existing 48 weeks/12 months entitlement to 60 weeks, effective immediately, and then to 80 weeks two years after enactment.

Meanwhile, as it relates to the Industrial Relations Act, the government is looking to improve issues related to industrial agreements, union relations and matters dealing with the resolution of disputes between unions and employers.

Many of the issues addressed in these amendments are issues contested by unionists for much of the last decade.

In 2015, Trades Union Congress (TUC) president Obie Ferguson called for a “complete revamp” of key labour legislation because employers were now insisting on the “letter of the law” with respect to union and industrial agreement registration.

At that time Mr Ferguson contended that outdated and passive wording in laws allowed employers to mistreat employees and work around major labour best practices.

Roughly one year later, Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort terminated more than 600 employees by making their posts redundant.

Sandals’ actions prompted Director of Labour Robert Farquharson to urge the National Tripartite Council (NTC), which he co-chairs, to agree to his department’s recommendations seeking to change the country’s laws by making it illegal for an employer to terminate more than ten employees without notifying and consulting the government at least 60 days before its proposed action takes effect.

The Department of Labour also wanted the NTC to agree to recommendations that would lift the cap on how many years severance pay employees will be entitled to from 12 to 30.

The move is likely to have set in motion the amendments presented to Parliament last week.

Comments

Economist 2 years, 6 months ago

Maybe the law should be changed to require the Unions to set aside retirement funds, say 25% out of the dues currently paid, for every member of the union.

That they should do this in equal increments of 8.33% each of the next three years.

They would holler very loudly.

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justthefactsplease 2 years, 6 months ago

Well there is a surprise...Paul Maynard supporting the PLP...shocker!!!

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themessenger 2 years, 6 months ago

Paul Maynard is just another union blowhard who never ran a business or never had to make payroll and other ends meet every week. He doesn't understand that private employers are in business to make money not provide employment for underachieving,nonproductive employees and blood sucking unionists who wouldn't recognize a hard days work if it bit them on the ass.

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justthefactsplease 2 years, 6 months ago

It irks me how this jackass calls anyone who does not agree with him stupid...Leslie stupid, employers across the country stupid...makes you wonder who is the real stupid one in this discussion

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Sickened 2 years, 6 months ago

If only the unions insisted that all employees work hard every day. And, if only they agreed that staff that get caught (on camera) stealing from their employer, should be terminated. But no, they insist that the employee made a mistake and that they should be given two more chances to steal before they are disciplined. And by disciplined they mean given a written warning and advised that if they are caught stealing again then the union would review their file and make recommendations to the employer that the employee should be moved to another department, preferably where there is nothing to steal AND should be sent on a course overseas for further training AND given a salary increase so that they are less inclined to steal in the future. UNIONS DISGUST ME TO THE CORE!!!

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Sickened 2 years, 6 months ago

It sickens me that unions think that every single union member since the creation of unions has been a model employee who deserves more. There has never been one lazy, non-performing union member? Shocking!

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Craig 2 years, 6 months ago

"This is does not affect the bottom line unless you lay people off. How will this affect? How will it have a crippling impact?" This statement proves that this man has no idea about how business works. Everyone gets laid off at some point. The smart businessman must plan for it. Therefore severance is a cost to business, whether it is paid now or at some point in the future. It therefore will affect the bottom line. These unions got to stop looking at businesses as the enemy from which they must suck everything they can get. They should be encouraging employees to start saving for their future, create a pension plan and start to take care of themselves. Encourage people to improve their skills, so that they will become more valuable to their employers. No, they'll never do this, it would be unpopular. They want to tell them want they want to hear, not what is right. Remember even a parasite will eventually kill its host!!

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regrolli 2 years, 6 months ago

Ignorant. Unions will ruin this country.

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BMW 2 years, 6 months ago

Craig that is what this jackass is a parasite that like others have never had to make payroll or worry where the next job is coming from so you can keep your doors open. Unions should be outlawed!

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sealice 2 years, 6 months ago

Dis PLP koolaid drinkin fool clearly don't know WTF he talking about - he get's his kick back when his union votes for the PLP is all he care's about

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DEDDIE 2 years, 6 months ago

What companies are doing is giving renewal one year contracts. Pay vacation and severance at the end of the contract and called it a day. The responsibility is now on the employee to save their severance. The logic is simple, pay it now or wait tell the company is struggling and can't pay.

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