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Water Wars: Gibson Threatens To Sue And Blasts Supply Saboteurs

WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson.

WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

WATER and Sewerage Corporation executive chairman Adrian Gibson announced yesterday he has instructed his attorney Ferron Bethell to sue Dwayne Woods for defamation given recent “untrue” statements the union leader made about him.

“Let me note that you would see the presence of Mr Bethell,” Mr Gibson said at a press conference. “Myself and the general manager have instructed Mr Bethell to take out suit against Mr Woods for defamation of character, given his statements that are far-fetched, entirely untrue, to which he has no proof.”

Earlier yesterday, Mr Gibson doubled down on accusations that workers at the utility provider illegally shut off water supply to parts of New Providence and sabotaged WSC property.

Mr Gibson told the House of Assembly that any employee found to have tampered with the water supply will be “summarily dismissed and referred to the police”.

His accusations are the latest in a brewing battle between WSC executives and union leaders at the organisation about operations at the water provider. 

Meanwhile, Mr Woods, Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) president, said yesterday his union did not condone sabotage.

Following Tuesday night’s shutdown, members of WSC’s two unions demonstrated outside Parliament chanting “Adrian’s got to go” as they reiterated their calls for the Long Island Member of Parliament to be removed from his post.

Mr Gibson’s statements in Parliament sparked a back and forth between himself, Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis and Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

Mr Davis accused Mr Gibson of being controversial and “adding to the fire” of the dispute. Meanwhile, Dr Minnis defended Mr Gibson, saying the Long Island MP has the “full support of the government”.

On Tuesday, members of both BUSAWU and the Water & Sewerage Management Union’s (WSMU) president demonstrated outside WSC headquarters in what was termed a “withdrawal of enthusiasm”. They decried what they deemed the unfair suspension of an employee for five days without pay.

During his address, Mr Gibson said: “Mr Speaker, after an illegal strike action yesterday and today, certain persons, intimately familiar with the workings at the (WSC) have engaged in an illegal shutdown of the water supply in various parts of NP. And as I sat here a moment ago, it was reported that the sewer network was also tampered with as there were lift station overflows at Arawak Cay, Chippingham sewer station as well as Pinewood Gardens.

“Mr Speaker throughout the night, pressure regulating valve alarms were going off across New Providence. This indicated that pressure regulating valves were being shut off throughout the island and in a concerted and intentional effort to disrupt the water supply. Additionally, persons threw stones and rocks into the valves to cause irreparable damage, major costs to WSC, and untold hardship to our customers.”

Mr Gibson listed the areas affected, adding they equated to “pretty much the entire island”.

Noting the country was “tremendously inconvenienced by this wanton disruption of a necessary amenity,” Mr Gibson said WSC has mobilised emergency teams to travel to various sites and restore the supply.

“Mr Speaker, these malicious acts of sabotage criminality (in a) sick effort to terrorise and inflict hardship upon Bahamians and residents come on the heels of condemnable and incendiary utterances made elsewhere.”

Mr Gibson also said WSC camera footage from Monday night revealed a truck “familiar to managers and staff” entering the compound’s back gate. He said the truck stayed for two to three minutes and the driver chained the gate and knocked out a camera. He added police are involved in the matter.

Mr Davis pointed out Mr Gibson’s remarks are “one side of a story”, adding if the police are investigating, “it’s akin to matters being subjudice”.

To this, Dr Minnis defended Mr Gibson’s responsibility to report to the nation what happened to the water supply.

As Mr Gibson finished his remarks, he called upon “all right-thinking Bahamians to condemn the disparaging, sexist remarks made about women at the corporation and their upward mobility”, referring to allegations made by union members during Tuesday’s press conference.

“These remarks are disgraceful, reckless, and entirely unacceptable,” Mr Gibson said. 

Underscoring that Tuesday’s demonstration was an “illegal strike to which there was no strike vote and no strike certificate,” Mr Gibson added: “Notably, between both unions out of an employee complement of nearly 440, only about 50 plus persons—a little over 10 percent—participated in those actions.

“Any employee found to have tampered with the water supply will be summarily dismissed and referred to the police,” he said. “This type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Following Mr Gibson’s remarks, Mr Davis noted the issues currently occurring within the corporation are a “result of industrial disputes that have been allowed to fester and fester”.

Mr Davis added: “And so the question has to be asked is why and how these issues have been allowed to bubble to the point where the allegations are now that employees are engaged in such conduct that is not healthy to anyone?”

As he called for Dr Minnis to get involved, the prime minister replied that he is involved.

“The member has the complete support of the government. We will not and we will not condone or accept any misbehaviour or sabotage to government equipment, materials, and such. And subsequently interfere with the quality of life of Bahamians.” 

Speaking about the matter outside Parliament, Mr Woods told The Tribune his union does not condone wrongdoing. Because a private company monitors the equipment, Mr Woods said officials should have known “almost instaneously” that an issue was occurring.

“What we also saying is that our members, I don’t think would carry out such an act. And it definitely didn’t come from the head of this union,” Mr Woods said. “What we are also saying is that if Mr Gibson has the proof that he claims he has, then we will partner with him and the police to bring the culprits to justice.”

Comments

Dawes 10 months, 3 weeks ago

If anyone is caught destroying essential infrastructure on purpose they should throw the whole book at them, up to charging them with treason. Clean water is a basic necessity as such whoever is doing this (be it a WSC employee or others) are putting all at risk and should be dealt with accordingly. However we've been through plenty of these spats between unions and Govt to know that a compromise will be found (normally where the union leaders get more) and then it will all be forgotten about as carnival coming.

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Agreed ............. attacking the welfare and health of the citizens via our public utilities (sabotaging water, power, communications, transport etc.) should be placed among the short list of "high crimes and misdemeanours" ......... punishable by at least TEN years (no pardon) in Fox Hell jail

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sheeprunner12 10 months, 3 weeks ago

But what if Union leaders & their minions become outlaws???????

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Well_mudda_take_sic 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Woods as union leader at Water & Sewerage Corp. and Maynard as union leader at BPL. Now that's a deadly combo of mean spirited clowns the Bahamian people should not have to contend with or be at the mercy of. Both of them should have been given their walking papers a long time ago. They have cost taxpayers a fortune over many years by having their respective goon squads sabotage and damage equipment whenever they don't get their way in negotiations with senior management personnel, board members or cabinet ministers. The Bahamian people are just plain fed up with their gestapo tactics. Minnis needs to get the word out that both Woods and Maynard must be given their walking papers, and the sooner the better.

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geostorm 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Agreed @ well_mudda! They are both ridiculous!

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DDK 10 months, 3 weeks ago

These despicable union creatures need to go! Why are they still running around disrupting service and making threats? Is this not a matter of national security, Mr. National Security Minister? There is nothing secure about these monsters and their minions attacking electrical and water supplies, whose service is a right of the Bahamian people, not to mention the damage its disruption does to our tourist industry. The People still have not received a satisfactory report on the destruction of the BEC/BPL generators

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bogart 10 months, 3 weeks ago

11 para down...."it was reported that the sewer network was also tampered with as there were lift station overflows at Arawak Cay, Chippingham sewer station as well as pinewood Gardens."

DIS IN ONE DIFFERENT ARENA......KNOWN AS BIOLOGICAL WARFARE......USING POO.....WHICH CAUSES HARM....AS POO DISPERSES....GETTIN PARTICLES TRACKING FURTHER...AIRBOURNE....SPREADS....LANDS ON AREAS.....CONTAMINATING......AFFECTING BAHAMIANS....MATTER OF FACT NO MATTER WHO WHO IS....BAHAMIANS....TOURISTS....CHILLREN...ELDERLY.... USING POO FAECES INTENDIONALLY ...... SEEMS BIOLOGICAL WARFARE....YINNA CAN CONFIRM DIS WID DR. SANDS...an what poo can do....!!!!! ....Dese entities must be fully controlled by gubbermint fer National Security...!!!!!

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jus2cents 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Water mains leaking on Adelaide road, just after BTC exchange heading west and West bay st. West, just at the South Ocean Blvd turn off.

This kind of idiocy needs to stop and perpetrators Must be punished. People need locking up.

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John 10 months, 3 weeks ago

The unions' modus operandi ever since the time the mafia (US) ran them was to destroy valuable equipment and disrupt essential services to the public. Then they expect support from the very same public whose services they have disrupted and whose lives they have inconvenienced. Unions have served their time. All they do now is artificially inflate the cost of labour by making excessive demands and forcing companies to hold on to deadwood employees.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 3 weeks ago

And when the FNM was in opposition they supported their antics. As will the POP now that they're in opposition. You see who they negotiating with?..John Pinder

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birdiestrachan 10 months, 3 weeks ago

doc supports Gibson in what he does and he also supports No games in what he is doing to the senior Police, officers.

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TalRussell 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, yes it is as long as Sewerage executive chairman comrade Adrian attempts use his political appointment sit top heads workers to Conquer respect - he will encounter workers revolt.....yes no - the young man's, should try practicing some Get Along People Earnestness (GAPE) , yes, no to welcoming more GAPE and less Conquer over at Sewerage?

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ThisIsOurs 10 months, 3 weeks ago

True. He's trying to show that he's All powerful King. Inexperience is showing

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geostorm 10 months, 3 weeks ago

Great job Adrian Gibson! Continue to put pressure on them. They have been allowed to be lazy and incompetent for far too long. No one has time for this nonsense. If you fond the culprits of yesterday's disaster, get rid of them!!

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