By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
A Supreme Court judge has awarded the Water and Sewerage Corporation costs in a recently ended case with the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union.
In a ruling on Friday, Justice Keith Thompson discontinued the proceedings in line with a notice of discontinuance filed by BUSAWU attorneys last Tuesday and awarded WSC, the defendant in the case, costs in the amount of $25,000.
The action was initially brought by BUSAWU following the suspension of its president Dwayne Woods’ salary after he refused to return to his post after the corporation decided last May not to renew his administrative leave, and ordered him back to work.
The ruling came one week after Justice Thompson told BUSAWU that legal action over the suspension of Mr Woods’ salary was not a union matter. He adjourned the matter to last Friday, May 10, and advised the union to give serious thought over the viability of its action and the matter of costs.
Justice Thompson at the time of the adjournment pointed out that the “union leave” provision in the expired Industrial Agreement held no effect and could not be incorporated into Mr Woods’ employment contract in the absence of a collective agreement.
In response to Justice Thompson’s indication, Mr Woods in an interview with The Tribune on May 3 suggested he had some issue with several of the observations, but said he would have to review the recommendations with the union’s legal team to determine the best course of action.
The decision is just the latest development in a longstanding ordeal between WSC and both its line staff and managerial unions.
It comes as both unions mull industrial action plans.
WSMU wants a new industrial agreement to be signed.
For BUSAWU, the three major issues include the “failure” of the corporation to “adhere to the promotional procedure,” WSC’s “failure” to post an organisational chart displaying which positions are filled, and an alleged breach of an agreement that concerns union member’s leave from WSC.
In a press statement released Friday afternoon, WSMU President Ednel Rolle said the Water and Sewerage Corporation was “stringing the union along”, adding WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson’s attitude toward staff was to blame.
“The Water and Sewerage Management Union wishes to advise the general public that the Water and Sewerage Corporation is continuing to not act in good faith with the union in trying to resolve outstanding matters,” the statement read.
“We would have advised the press that there was to be a meeting on May 7, 2019. This meeting did not take place. The corporation has now
advised that a meeting is scheduled for May 22, 2019.
“Yesterday, May 9, 2019 there was to be a conciliatory meeting at the Department of Labour and the corporation did not show up. Clearly these acts show an unwillingness by the corporation to act in good faith or even to deal with the issues at all. It appears to the union that the corporation is just stringing the union along.
“In light of this position taken by the corporation, it appears that industrial action is certain due to the Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson’s attitude towards the union and workers,” the statement claimed.