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Is A Summer Of Discontent Heading Our Way?

To hear some members of the government talk, you’d think all was right with the country – but is that a summer of discontent we glimpse on the horizon?

Certainly, there’s a wealth of union issues for the government to sort through. Negotiations with health unions and doctors still lumber on unresolved – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Latest to come knocking on the government’s door is Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson.

She says there are a host of ongoing issues in education and that the union has recommended changes on a number of occasions – only to have their suggestions fall on deaf ears.

Unpaid salaries, cancelled allowances, staff working for more than a decade before being confirmed in their positions, a lack of training, not enough staff in the ministry, a failure to computerise… it’s quite a list. And that’s before we even get to issues surrounding the curriculum and how to actually teach the next generation of students.

To her credit, Mrs Wilson is calling for the ministry to partner with the union to resolve issues – which given that laundry list of problems shows a remarkable amount of patience.

Meanwhile, this week has also seen disruption over at NIB, with the offices at Wulff Road and Fox Hill forced to close because of staff absences. There have been three days of disruption by staff – and yesterday managers joined in as discussions rumble on over an industrial agreement.

It left people in need without anywhere to turn – readers on social media protesting they could not get into NIB when they’d taken time out of work to get matters resolved. One woman who spoke to our reporter had flown from Exuma to get a letter for her daughter’s passport application – only to be told come back in a week because staff are on strike.

People depend on NIB for so much – pensions, sickness benefits, funeral payments, maternity payments, business documentation – and so much more.

Any long-term disruption will affect significant numbers of Bahamians. We would hope staff have made their point – and officials have realised the impact of any disruption, and that both sit down for talks immediately.

Lastly – at least for now – the continued arguments over at the Water & Sewerage Corporation have turned into a row about whether a strike certificate should have been issued or not.

That may end up in court – but here’s the thing: going to court over the legality of a certificate won’t solve the issues that led workers to vote on a strike in the first place.

In each of these cases, there seems to be a lack of urgency to do the one thing that’s needed most – talk.

Get on with it, please.

Time to deliver on the Post Office

In all of this, there is one more thing on the horizon – though it seems to have been on the horizon for a long time.

The Post Office is due to open at its new location at the Town Centre Mall, barring any more last minute hiccups.

This at least is a sign of progress to have at last left behind the outdated and frankly dangerous old Post Office building.

The process has taken time, and suffered more than one delay along the way, but it is done, and now’s the time to start rebuilding the reputation of the service.

However, you’ll forgive us if we will believe all is well when our mail starts to arrive in our hands in days rather than months.

Let’s see how it pans out.

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