By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Utilities Service and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) President Dwayne Woods yesterday accused the Water and Sewerage Corporation of attempting to “misdirect” the Department of Labour by claiming BUSAWU did not meet the requirements for a strike vote.
Mr Woods also called for on WSC to stop “interfering” with the Department of Labour’s work.
The union is expected to hold a press conference at the Department of Labour today to expound on these matters.
On April 16, BUSAWU members voted in favour of industrial action against WSC.
Following this vote, WSC released a statement saying BUSAWU did not meet the criteria for a strike vote.
When asked about the matter yesterday, Mr Woods told The Tribune: “WSC is trying to misdirect the Department of Labour, like they always do at Water and Sewerage.
“They try to be judge, jury, and executioner over there and all. They need to stop interfering with the Department of Labour and let them do their work.”
In the statement released last week, WSC said based on the available data it had received, out of 312 non-managers, nearly 34 percent voted in favour, 9 percent voted against and nearly 57 percent abstained.
BUSAWU’s constitution, according to WSC, states: “This union can only call a strike against a company after a majority vote of its members present at a meeting called for this purpose and who are eligible under prevailing statutes. This vote must be by secret ballot and must be conducted under conditions set out in the prevailing statutes.”
WSC added: “Given the statute, the two-thirds rule applies. With the current result, BUSAWU has not met that criteria. We understand that additional numbers are coming in from the Family Islands.”
However, Mr Woods clarified these figures to The Tribune yesterday.
“One hundred and fifty-seven voted in support of the strike vote, 48 voted against,” he said.
He said there were 107 members who did not vote “were unable to participate” for various reasons, including vacation and sick leave.
Mr Woods insisted that his union obtained the required two-thirds vote.
Yesterday, Labour Director John Pinder confirmed BUSAWU met the requirements, noting their constitution states the majority of persons must vote in favour.
He added his department conducts the strike poll but said the minister of labour must certify the polls.
“We are mandated by the Industrial Relations Act to conduct the strike poll. The minister makes the determination,” Mr Pinder said.
“The minister approves all the strike certificates. So I will send the report to him and he will make that determination,” Mr Pinder said.
To this, Mr Woods said: “The Department of Labour, of which he’s the director, conducted my polls. And my members came out and voted. And I would have gained two-thirds plus a majority vote. So if it comes down to the validity of the polls for my union, it’s on him.
“He has to be very careful…that he be able to draw the thin line between both parties. And remain neutral.”