The presentation was held at the Paul Farquharson Centre at police headquarters on Saturday.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
NATIONAL Congress of Trade Unions (NCTU) Acting President Paul Maynard believes it’s clear the government will move to make a deal with public sector unions following an “informative” omnibus meeting Saturday morning.
Seven public sector unions, alongside the NCTU and Trade Union Congress were given a full presentation on the country’s fiscal position up to 2022 by Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson. Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and his entire Cabinet were present at the Paul Farquharson Centre at police headquarters.
Dr Minnis reportedly promised unions he would hold similar meetings before a fiscal budget is finalised - in response to a complaint made by unions that their needs should have been accounted for.
“They showed us the numbers, but the people don’t want to hear that now," Mr Maynard said.
"They should have involved us in this process a long time ago. All of these public sector contracts was up last year. Everybody knew or should have known, they should have started negotiating a long time ago."
Mr Maynard continued: “I believe they will make some provisions. They going to have to; and from that meeting they understand they have to.
“The unions are going through the negotiating process. The point is they knew, they should have had the money but they ignored it. I believe they will make the deal.”
Speaking on behalf of the government, Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said both he and Dr Minnis felt the meeting was productive and informative.
He declined to provide any details on negotiations with the Bahamas Public Service Union and The Bahamas Doctors Union - both of whom have been publicly agitating for a resolution this past week.
The BDU strike is still ongoing with public hospital services reduced to emergency care only.
Mr Foulkes said: “What we wanted to do as a government is give our realistic impressions of the economy and our limitations to the public sector unions, and we accomplished that. The discussions were very frank, (unions) were very frank in their positions."
He continued: “All of the major unions gave representation with respect to their economic demands the financial secretary and DPM responded to those questions.”
Kimsley Ferguson, the BPSU president, said his membership will continue to stand down until Monday evening when it will meet to chart a path forward.
Mr Ferguson agreed the meeting was informative, adding it was discovered the government had not made any contingency to address industrial agreements.
He noted his union has received a counter offer but did not want to give any further details until it was concrete.
Mr Ferguson said: “Concerns were aired, and one of the points that we discovered was that nothing was budgeted to address industrial agreements. The (Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest) response to that was that they can’t budget for agreements that were not finalized. But our response is that the government is aware of what they want to do, or will do as it relates to increases. It is expected once they knew agreements were expiring they should have done something.
“I can state to my members that a counter was made,” Mr Ferguson said.
“I can’t express figures but I could say to them that I’m at the view we can meet the government at that point, if the particular figures that (a senior official) gave can be confirmed. The prime minister advised he would give me a call before the weekend is out, so at the latest is Monday. We need something concrete to present (to membership).”