Editorial: It’S A Wonder The Bahamas Has Any Viable Business

A RECENT Industrial Development Bank survey reports that the functional capacity of The Bahamas’ civil service scores 19 out of 100 on the charts, showing “that the Bahamas has significant room for improvement”.

Can you imagine your child coming home with a report card showing a 19 out of 100 score, and you not getting out of the comfort of your armchair to seek immediate remedial help? In fact there was a time when such a grade was put into an unclassified category so as not to give the child an inferiority complex.

With such an embarrassing score there is little wonder that The Bahamas ranks so low on the ease of doing business charts. In fact it holds the world’s 118th position, two points below the war-torn West Bank and Gaza strip, the centre of Palestinian unrest. Like it or not, that is The Bahamas’ reputation in the world of business.

Add that level of dysfunction to the hostage type tactics that our unions employ and our country has a recipe for disaster. Undoubtedly this statement will produce an extreme reaction, but such a reaction can be dismissed as a sign of immaturity by less than rational thinking.

Take for example the dilemma in which Atlantis now finds itself in a dispute filed by the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU).

We now have a copy of a chart of guidelines as it applies to attendance, which was distributed to the hotel staff. Anyone objectively studying the new guidelines can see that the union staff is left at a disadvantage to non union staff — but that is what the union wanted. We understand that the union’s reason for rejecting the new — and more favourable plan for all staff — was that the union was not consulted. We have heard that reasoning before, but we soon discovered on the earlier occasion that not only was it not true, but the only problem was that the union had not conceived the idea first.

It is inconceivable in the Atlantis case that the union was not informed of the contemplated changes. However, let us assume that for some reason Atlantis did not so much as send a letter of notification — which in the circumstances is highly unlikely – wouldn’t the union excuse such a snafu if the proposed changes benefited the employees?

Nevertheless, the union agreement, which had expired, stated that the resort had a right to make changes as long as those changes did not have an adverse affect on employees and the union was given notice. How can increasing the number of times an employee can be late without being written up adversely affect an employee?

We now understand that Atlantis has agreed to revert back to its practice of allowing union employees to be late only twice before they are written up. This seems to be beyond rational thinking, but rational thinking does not appear to be a trademark of the unions.

The union also has an issue with the hotel implementing additional shifts to the housekeeping department so that the hotel can have better coverage for their guests. As is the usual tactic of the union, they have conflated the two issues so as to create confusion during the negotiation process. The resort, however, has suspended implementation of the additional shifts and has told the union that they would wish to continue meeting with them to come to an understanding, thereby removing the issue from the table for now. It will now be interesting to see what else they can conjure up so that they can continue to fuel their zeal for unrest,

It is no wonder that we are rated below the Gaza strip for doing business. The business environment here is hostile, irrational and dysfunctional in at least 93 out of 100 cases, according to the IDB. No wonder eyebrows are raised when in labour relations an employer is raked over the coals when he wants to be more lenient with employees who on occasion are late for work. What the Bahamas now has is an environment where the ability to conduct business is impeded by a government process, or lack of process, and further hampered by the inability for businesses to manage its affairs in an effective and efficient way. In fact we understand that the BHCAWU is teetering on bankruptcy despite collecting tens of millions in dues over many years. Yet they want to flex their muscles to override prudent management decisions by Atlantis and other resorts. It is no wonder that the recently opened Bahamar is doing all that it can to keep the union out.

And so the next time you are late for work, remember it was your union that made certain that if you were late a second time your name would appear in the book of forbidden sins — which could start you on the road to a bleak future. Of course, as you start to sink, we hope you will remember to thank the union for its brilliant bargaining powers.


Porcupine 6 months, 2 weeks ago


You are right. The only arguments in favor of the way things are run here, are from those who haven't a clue about how the rest of the world is run. 19 out of 100 may be too generous. And, I am in favor of unions. However, our union leaders here have lost their way and only perpetuate the slackness that all but they seem to see. I think the time of, sink or swim, has passed.


Dawes 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Its because there is always at least one very good civil service worker who is able to do the job. Unfortunately you have to go through a lot of the bad before you get to them. These people are never rewarded as their bosses realise they need them at that level as they are the only ones doing their job. As such those who are incompetent or lazy are the ones getting promoted.


DDK 6 months, 1 week ago

How right is this editorial. How nice would it be if things really were BETTER IN THE BAHAMAS! Between consecutive governments and the unions, both hell-bent on maintaining the status quo and the penchant for taxing us into oblivion, there seems little reason to be optimistic about the future of our Bahamas......


DWW 6 months, 1 week ago

IDB = inter-american development bank


sheeprunner12 6 months ago

The Editor hit a home run with this one .......... the Unions want to force employers (including the Government) to comply with their unreasonable requests ......... But the Union members are kept in the dark (for the most part) about what happens to their union dues ........ SMH.

Most of these Union executives should be audited and prosecuted for blowing millions of their members' dues on internal business conflicts .......... especially the teachers and hotel unions.


Sign in to comment