By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
IRATE employees of the National Insurance Board (NIB) protested yesterday after negotiations over a new industrial agreement failed.
Speaking to reporters outside of NIB’s headquarters during the workers’ morning tea break, Ghion Roach, Union of Public Officers (UPO) president, said they walked off the job because negotiations have stalled again.
Mr Roach said: “Our protest from the beginning has been (over) an expired contract. We can’t get the representatives to come to the table and finish. We been working on meeting in the middle on issues, but we just can’t get it complete.
“We have an expired contract that we’ve been trying to get finished and we can’t get it finished.”
The union leader said workers will protest until the matter is resolved.
Earlier this month, NIB workers voted almost unanimously to take strike action. The UPO president said, at the time, the votes were overwhelmingly in favour of a strike; the Nassau count included 229 voting “yes” with just one “no”.
Mr Roach said after that strike vote: “The minister has agreed to restart negotiations this week, we will see where it goes from there. (If) things go left, we’ll be back at (protesting) again, but we will work with management for now.”
This vote came after NIB staff went on “work-to-rule” because a previous strike vote was deemed invalid.
Speaking to reporters previously, Mr Roach said Director of Labour John Pinder deemed the prior strike vote invalid because there were some technicalities with the application.
NIB previously called on the Union of Public Officers to de-escalate its issues to reach an amicable solution that won’t disrupt the pension and other benefit payments to residents who rely on NIB.
The agency has said it will continue to cooperate in good faith with its staff union to assist the Ministry of the Public Service and National Insurance to conclude negotiations on a new industrial agreement in an environment where the board has to improve its efficiency targets and better manage administrative costs.