By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Industrial unrest is brewing at Morton Salt, with the union representing line-staff yesterday proclaiming itself "insulted" by the company's industrial offer and threatening to strike.
Morton Salt, though, argued that its offer was "fair" for "both operational and employee needs in order to preserve jobs in Inagua".
Jennifer Brown, president of the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers & Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU), told Tribune Business that the union - which represents around 100 line staff at Inagua's largest employer - and Morton Salt had reached an "impasse" in their negotiations on a new industrial agreement, the previous deal having expired back in February.
Ms Brown said the union had applied for a strike vote, which will be held next Tuesday. "We have been negotiating for the past several months now. Our contract expired on February 28. We reached an impasse," she said.
"The company's position is they will offer an increase at 1.5 percent the first year, 1.5 percent the second, and the third year, 1.7 percent. They also want to increase the medical and life insurance; double the premiums in fact. The increase they are giving cannot even cover that, so what they give you can't even cover that. That's not even considering inflation. It's an insult."
Ms Brown added: "We have already applied for a strike vote, and the date for that is November 20. We had asked for government intervention in the matter. We are hoping they do something. As soon as we get our certificate in our hands we will take action. We are not sure when, but we will have to. This is going to be a serious one. We need to have this resolved."
In response, Morton Salt spokesman, Paul Jackiewicz, said in a statement: "Morton Bahamas has actively participated in negotiations with the Bahamas Industrial, Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union since February in an effort to reach a long-term labour agreement for our Inagua salt production site.
"We've continued to have productive conversations with the union, and the parties met in Nassau earlier this week to negotiate in good faith in the interest of a fair and amicable agreement for all involved."
He added: "The company's offer includes wage increases in each year of the proposed agreement, and updates to the company's healthcare benefits. We believe the offer is fair and provides for both operational and employee needs in order to preserve good jobs in Inagua." Morton Salt is a subsidiary of K+S, a German company.