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Unions 'Not Satisfied' With Employment Act Changes

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Trades Union Congress's (TUC) president says he is "not at all satisfied" with the Employment Act Reforms passed by the former Christie administration, with redundancy pay "a major issue for us".

Obie Ferguson told Tribune Business: "I don't think there is a union that is satisfied with that. As far as we're concerned redundancy was to be 80 weeks for managerial workers and, for non-managerial workers, it was 60 weeks. They changed it back to 24 weeks for non-managerial and 48 weeks for non-managers. That was never put to us. I saw it when it was gazetted and that is a major issue for us."

Key among employer concerns had been the 67 per cent, or two-thirds increase, in the Employment Act's redundancy pay 'cap'. Line staff remain entitled to a maximum 24 weeks or six months' redundancy pay under the reforms, gaining two weeks for each year they have been employed up to the 12-year 'cap'. Managers remain at a maximum of 48 weeks, or one month for every year worked up to 12 years.

Mr Ferguson added: "We had also asked them [the Government] to put a penalty in the legislation for failing to sit down and negotiate with the union once they have recognition. Even when the unions got recognition they still couldn't get them to come to the table. The penalty would have been an incentive."

Mr Ferguson said trade unions were not seeking to destroy the Bahamas, and added: "Some of the problems we have had is where there has been complete disrespect, and you can't approach things in a dictatorial fashion.

"No one is trying bankrupt this country. We're just saying let's sit down and work things out. Let's come to something that is livable and workable. The TUC and NCTU are going to work closely together with the Minister towards achieving what is required for workers and, at the same time, we aren't about to try and do stupid things to undermine the credibility of the country."

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