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Water workers upset at Christmas bonus delay

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE union representing Water and Sewerage Corporation line staff said it is disappointed in the water provider’s decision not to pay out Christmas bonuses this month, allegedly deviating from provisions set out in the workers’ industrial agreement.

Last week, WSC General Manager Elwood Donaldson said the bonuses would be deferred temporarily this year due to fall out from COVID-19.

However, in an interview yesterday, Dwayne Woods, Bahamas Utility Services and Allied Workers Union president, said BUSAWU was aggrieved for various reasons, including reportedly not being given adequate notice to allow workers to plan not to receive the bonus.

He said workers have been advised not to work overtime since the bonus will not be paid out this month.

Additionally, he claimed that the decision should have been discussed in a meeting, but said a relationship between the union and officials is non-existent.

He urged executives to come to the table to decide how the bonuses will be paid, adding the union could possibly agree to the deferred payment with an applied interest.

“We are not greedy,” he said in response to a question from this newspaper. “Nothing could be further from the truth for the mere fact that we are sensitive towards the economic and financial position of the country with respect to COVID-19 and we want to separate ourselves from that statement.

“It’s simply that the Christmas bonus is considered a part of our salary and wages in respect to accruing on a monthly basis from January to November 30 and is payable in December. It’s not no extra amount of money we could get as a bonus. It also carries a qualifier. One has to qualify for that over a period of one year what is payable in December.”

He continued: “We don’t have a problem with the corporation postponing and deferring if they would come to the table and negotiate when payment will be made and if they did not disrespect the union to the point of not giving us a notice, had they done that the members could have planned their salaries without knowing they would not have gotten this bonus. They gave us this late notice indefinitely postponing the payment of this.

“The union is saying come to the table, let’s sit down amicably and solve the issue. If we could come to the conclusion of when we’ll be paid and whatever interest may be put on top of it, that is something we may be able to come to a conclusion on.”

The industrial agreement also outlines that “the corporation shall pay a Christmas bonus of $700 beginning in the year 2013 to each employee with 12 months of service or more.”

Other provisions include that the qualifying year is to run from December 1 of the previous year to November 30 of the current year with the payment being included in the Christmas payroll for serving employees. For others, payment is to be made at about the same time of the Christmas payroll.

The bonus is only applicable to workers who are still in the service of WSC on November 30 and have discharged their duties efficiently, with due diligence and fidelity.

Eligibility for the bonus also means the employee was not suspended from duty or absent from duty for more than one work day or shift without justification during any month of the qualifying year, among other stipulations.

In a December 3 letter, Mr Donaldson wrote to staff: “As you are aware, our nation is facing very difficult financial times within our current economy. The Water and Sewerage Corporation plays an integral part in the fight against COVID-19. Our services remain essential and currently given without financial conditions to ensure that the entire nation receives potable water.”

The pandemic has meant the WSC has to deal with decreased cash flow and collections. Since March no disconnections were carried out.

“…Notwithstanding that, we have maintained our staff complement and continued to meet monthly salary payments. This month is no different as all staff will be paid their salaries in full. Due to this current dire financial environment, we are advising that Christmas bonuses…for the year ending 2020, will be deferred until further notice.”

He said the deferment was necessary and was signed off by the government.

He said it applies to all employees including members of the executive committee.

Attempts to reach Mr Donaldson for comment were unsuccessful up to press time.

Comments

tribanon 1 year, 8 months ago

Many thousands of Bahamians who were once employed in the private sector have had their lives destroyed and now frequently go hungry and without necessary medications. Meanwhile those employed by the government and its loss-making corporations, who haven't even had a reduction in their pay or benefits during the COVID-19 caused economic crisis, are greedily crying for their bonuses. And Minnis continues borrowing and taxing the rest of us to the maximum extent possible in order to keep the unfairly privileged public sector workers financially unharmed by the economic crisis. Go figure!

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tetelestai 1 year, 8 months ago

Sigh. All of your above rambling is beside the point. Legally, there is a binding agreement that cannot be unilaterally altered. Defer the bonus payments, but there is a process to do so. It is ironic that you, who always whines and traduces others for either not establishing or not following protocols, are missing the boat on this. As you would say, mudda, LMAO!

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benniesun 1 year, 8 months ago

Normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a cognitive bias which leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects.

Government and government related salaries and perks should have been cut from the beginning of the pandemic in March. The Bahamas is suffering from normalcy bias and fails to realize that no one is coming to rescue us; the vultures have already sized us up, and it is now only a waiting game before the onset of merciless pillage. Yet the government acts as if we are still under normal world conditions. No one is going to save our lives and we are going down for the last time.

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moncurcool 1 year, 8 months ago

These unions are a clear and present danger to the economic viability of the Bahamas. How the heck do governments allow union to mandate a worker automatically getting a bonus? This nonsense has to stop!!!

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Chucky 1 year, 8 months ago

Is that a fact?

Or could it be that these unions, ensure that at least their workers maintain a reasonable and stable income throughout their careers.

Note, for the most part union members are still “blue collar” in nature; and at best maintain a total income far less than any managerial or professional employees.

It seems to me that the union serves to protect It’s members, a small segment Of the blue collar work force, from the economic suffering that their non union counterparts must endure.

While I’m not a union supporter, especially due to the propensity of agreements to protect union workers from dismissal due to poor performance. I do support the fact that the union members have some form of protection.

Otherwise they will be subject to the evil of the ruling class , who uses every opportunity to stomp on the lowly worker.

Notice economic problems always hurt the little people.

How many professionals have you heard of suffering from this pandemic?

How many blue collar workers ?

How many union workers?

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tribanon 1 year, 8 months ago

Next you will be telling us about how these unions are a big plus for productivity in the work place and for our overall economy. But then why do we often hear so many gripes and complaints about the laziness of workers in the public sector and at our loss-making government controlled entities? And why was our economy in a shambles with ever soaring national debt long before Dorian and COVID-19 came along?

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Chucky 1 year, 8 months ago

I totally agree about the productivity problem. But if we’re being honest, this is a systemic issue in the Bahamas which goes far beyond just union employees; I’d go out on a limb and say it spans all levels of employment from the straw market to our top politicians and ruling elite and I’d say that it’s to the extent of at least 75% of our population

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moncurcool 1 year, 8 months ago

Protection is totally different from extortion.

I agree with protecting rights

Ido not support or agree with extorting something not based on productivity, but just pure slackness.

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DWW 1 year, 8 months ago

when either side gains too much power and control it inevitably leads to abuse and a failure of the system. When the BAhamas' loan sharks come calling for the pound of flesh, guess who is going to pay the ultimate price for the slackness?

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JokeyJack 1 year, 8 months ago

"However, in an interview yesterday, Dwayne Woods, Bahamas Utility Services and Allied Workers Union president, said BUSAWU was aggrieved for various reasons, including reportedly not being given adequate notice to allow workers to plan not to receive the bonus."

Plan not to receive it?????????? What planet these people been living on. So, he is suggesting that the government might have to pay the change date fee on their airline tickets that they already bought to Miami???????????? LOL.

These people must never notice the homeless people living on the sidewalks as they drive to and from work. Bear in mind that a chain (and a society) is only as strong as its weakest link. As long as we (and the USA) have homeless people, hungry people, we will always be at the mercy of the Devil's whims. The Devil is now preparing to send China (that atheist dictatorship) here and to the USA to do his bidding. They already have roots in the Bahamas and even bigger roots in the USA, so the hard work has already been done. It's going to be easy for them to make mince meat out of both of us. Notice how nothing can be done against Rep. Eric Swalwell, nor the TikTok app. They have everyone under their thumb. Even Bahamians go to "the Chinese" for their "little grocery". All that "little grocery" adds up to big money transferred to Beijing to buy weapons to use on us.

Even today it was reported that Canada had agreed to allow Chinese military to come in to be be trained in "cold weather" tactics at the base in Petawawa. Rest assured, those few remaining officers in the Pentagon who gave the order to Canada, are about to be swiftly removed on Jan 21st, once Biden sits in his chair. The will just begin their training in late January instead. I believe we are past the point of no return now, and the entire western world will be crushed. But, yeah, that $700 could be a big deal - LOL.

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DWW 1 year, 8 months ago

thats a deep rabbit hole you got yourself in there mate

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TalRussell 1 year, 8 months ago

Did I just click on Tribune's weird page of but day one before the official rungin' bell general election's bell?
Shakehead a quick once for upyeahvote, you really can't just make up such nonsense. Just, can't, a slow twice for not?

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