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Bannister Won't Meet With Wsc Unions

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.

By LEANDRA ROLLE


Tribune Staff Reporter


lrolle@tribunemedia.net  

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister said on Friday he has no intentions to meet with unions representing Water & Sewerage Corporation after officials urged workers to take industrial action this week stemming from grievances with the utility provider. 

This comes after Mr Bannister told Tribune Business on Tuesday that he had planned to meet with Water & Sewerage Management Union (WSMU) and Bahamas Utilities Services & Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) officials on Thursday after they called on their members to block all phone calls from Adrian Gibson, WSC executive chairman, and Elwood Donaldson, WSC general manager. 


The two unions, in a joint statement entitled "enough is enough", also urged members to "immediately exit all Water & Sewerage Corporation What's App chat groups" and "turn in all cell phones" belonging to the utility. 

Asked how the meetings went, Mr Bannister told reporters he would not meet with anyone who takes industrial action before discussions are held. The deputy prime minister also said he thought unions would’ve understood the depth of COVID’s impact especially considering the fact that many Bahamians will not be able to feed their families this Christmas.  

He told reporters on Friday: “Listen, ya’ll live in the Bahamas. All of us have been in this pandemic with the lockdowns and everything this year. In my constituency in Carmichael, which is a middleclass community, there are people who don’t have food, all over this island.

“I would’ve thought that any union that has mature leadership would’ve understood that and put all of their members together and say ‘listen, this is a national effort, let’s do something for the Bahamas. Let’s do something for Bahamians. This is Christmas time and let’s make a difference in the lives of Bahamians’.

“But, don’t say you want to meet with me and then you call industrial action. That makes no sense and I hope that the leadership of those unions and say ‘listen, let’s take a collection together and let’s go in some community in our country and let’s make a difference in the lives of some children and some people who may not be able to eat this Christmas and let’s talk about a Christmas bonus afterwards when there’s some money in the country.’

“So, no I’m not going to meet with anybody who calls industrial action before I meet with them.”  

The unions are upset with the water provider’s decision not to pay out Christmas bonuses this month, allegedly deviating from provisions set out in the workers’ industrial agreement. 

Both bodies also pointed to the Corporation's alleged "failure" to complete and negotiate industrial agreements with each of them, as well as "unilaterally varying the terms and conditions of the industrial agreement with respect" to accrued vacation and "transferring day workers to shift workers without consultation and agreement". 

Others concerns expressed by the unions are related to the alleged failure to "pay overtime associated with Hurricane Dorian for both unions”.

Mr Gibson earlier this year said the corporation was facing a $30.8m "backlog" on payments due to vendors at end-August 2020, a sum that continues to grow, and a $15m-plus year-over-year decline in revenue for the year to-date. 

"Frankly, the Water & Sewerage Corporation is in dire straits," he said. "Our operating cash flow cannot sustain monthly payments for vendors and payroll. 

“These challenges have resulted in a backlog of supplier payments that are steadily growing, and there's concern about monthly payroll for the balance of 2020. Our vendor payments backlog as at August 27, 2020, was some $30.8m." 

Mr Gibson said this payable covered everything from monies owed to third-party contractors; vehicle and building insurance; and loans due to multilateral institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). 

Comments

nassau98@aol.com 10 months ago

Outstanding Minister Bannister; do not meet with these ungrateful hypocrites. It will be a great accomplishment if you can make some of them redundant. Trust me, you have the support of the majority of well thinking water & Sewerage Customers.

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birdiestrachan 10 months ago

You are the man Banister. Deputy PM. You do not have to meet with them,

You and your party were voted for in large numbers. It is people's time for sure.

The Minister of Education the former Deacon said he will not speak to the head of the teachers union.

Drunk with power. use it as long as you all can it will come to an end.

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JokeyJack 10 months ago

"Both bodies also pointed to the Corporation's alleged "failure" to complete and negotiate industrial agreements with each of them, as well as "unilaterally varying the terms and conditions of the industrial agreement with respect" to accrued vacation and "transferring day workers to shift workers without consultation and agreement". "

As I posted on the other related article, the union is WRONG to make these demands at this time - BUT the government is wrong to have allowed this situation to fester to this degree where now amputation may be the only medical solution. We have been hearing about LONG TIME un-renewed industrial agreements with so many unions for years and years now. The government kicks the can down the road in renegotiating new agreements and often times appears to treat the unions (and even non-union employees) with a total lack of respect.

If they had played fair ball throughout the years, then they would have built up trust and a relationship that could withstand these hard times. However, they have arrived at this ballgame with a deflated ball. As always, it boils down to a war between the haves and the have-nots with the church sitting on the sidelines convincing the have-nots that God said they need to reproduce more have-nots. It would be comical if it wasn't so serious.

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hrysippus 10 months ago

If i was the Minister I would not waste my time talking to these overpaid entitlement minded state employed workers either. Most of these union presidents just seem to want to become politicians and have to work even less and get paid even more.

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ThisIsOurs 10 months ago

Everyone has already pointed out the salient points:

a.The govt has allowed the situation to fester

b. As negligent as the govt is and has been, now probably isn't the time to realize any bonuses, salary increases or increments.

So given the reality, what CAN the govt do?:

  1. Remove Adrian Gibson immediately. He should have never been placed in that position of authority. This is not a new position for me. From his "I'm disappointed I wasn't appointed a cabinet minister" statement, it was clear he has an overgrandized view of himself. Placing him over men, and I literally mean "male" animals, who have spent years educating themselves in a specialized field when he has no knowledge of the field, no experience leading anything and a good deal of arrogance, was a recipe for disaster (human/animal dynamics, males special when it comes to who they take orders from). This was clear from the moment they made the announcement. It was a disastrous decision and they need to correct it. COVID does not prevent them from doing so.

  2. If the minister refuses to meet with the union and is encouraging them to take industrial action, I hope the court does not entertain any request that forces them back to work when they take the only action allowed them. Meet with them, come to a resolution or allow them their due process. Just because we are in COVID it does not mean workers should be taken advantage of or treated like slaves, and I'm referring to issues that do not include monetary increases

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