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.