Union frustration with alleged wrongful dismissals at GBPC

Grand Bahama Power Company headquarters.

Grand Bahama Power Company headquarters.


Tribune Freeport Reporter


THE Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union has voiced frustration over the alleged wrongful dismissals of workers at the Grand Bahama Power Company.

CEWU president Roscoe Burrows claims that a total of five workers have been terminated for no just cause over the past two years.

He accused GBPC of violating the contract under Article 19, which speaks to productivity, contract of employment termination, and performance evaluation.

Additionally, Mr Burrows indicated that there are other outstanding issues pending, including the safety of workers and discrimination in pay.

The union president said disputes were filed with the Labour Board concerning the dismissals, which have yet to be resolved.

Just last week, another employee was dismissed at the GBPC.

“We want the GBPC to stop dismissing our members without cause,” Mr Burrows said on Friday. 'We have been in negotiations on all cases for almost two years and we are not getting anywhere. We have four matters before the Labour Board, and everything seems to be stalled.”

According to a statement issued by CEWU, the first dismissal occurred on November 27, 2020. A dispute was filed with the Labour Board.

Mr Burrows said the union is awaiting an outcome of the Court of Appeal ruling.

Since then, there have been other alleged wrongful dismissals. On Feb 12, 2021, Mr Burrows claimed that no reason or cause was given for the termination of an employee who had initially alerted GB Power HR about alleged irregularities that were discovered with his superior’s work operation.

The union official stated that after receiving no resolution, the worker proceeded to use Emera’s hotline, which has been established for reporting code of conduct violations. He pointed out the hotline was promised to be anonymous and protect employees from retaliation. He said shortly after that the worker was dismissed by his director.

Mr Burrows said CEWU. filed a dispute at the Labour Board for wrongful dismissal on the worker’s behalf. Although The Industrial Tribunal ruled in favour of the case filed by CEWU. on May 2, 2022, GBPC is appealing it in the Court of Appeal.

Despite the ruling in the previous case, the union president said GBPC dismissed a worker on October 6, 2022, under circumstances similar to the previous case. The union member had utilised the hotline shortly before being dismissed.

“It seems Emera’s hotline is getting a little too hot for employees to manage and not even the law is not enough to stay the iron fist of the Company,” said Mr Burrows. “There is now a total of four cases before the Labour Board and one at the Court of Appeal and possibly more soon to come.”

Other outstanding issues include the safety of workers and discrimination in pay, among others.

“There is a safety concern in the Power Line Technicians Department as it relates to work processes to help keep workers safe while performing such integral and potentially dangerous tasks daily, ensuring the lights stay bright,” Mr Burrows claimed.

“Also, there is a matter of their Progression Plan needing to be laid out with a clear schedule for advancement similar to the documents that are in place for the Mechanics and the Mechanic Operator’s Progression Plans.”

“There is also the matter of the three Control Room Operators being discriminated upon for three years and counting, while they train Operators, some with far fewer years of experience and tenure, to far supersede their own salaries, are still being overlooked themselves.

“There is also the Instrument Electrical & Controls case of four technicians being utilised for four plus years to provide service and skill sets outside of what they were being paid for despite the contract clearly outlining how they are to be compensated.

“There is also an alleged Customer Service Representative with no clear job title according to the Company, who has been worked far above his pay grade for seven years and counting, with no promotion to an appropriate position and no remuneration for past years of service, almost akin to slavery.

''There is also a Store Man who is stuck in the lowest rank for the past nine years despite training other Store Men and acting as Warehouse Supervisor on many occasions. There also exists numerous counts of employees performing tasks well above and outside their roles with no compensation, no raises, no promotions, not to mention many employees have either no clear job descriptions or are just plain missing in the contract.”

The union official said GBPC has decreased its line staff by half over the years.

“The company has successfully and quietly downsized from over two hundred line staff down to almost half that in the past decade while executive promotions and hiring seem to be at an all-time high,” Mr Burrows claimed.

“With all the same equipment in place to maintain and operate, almost all departments are overworked, understaffed, and under-compensated.”

Mr Burrows said contract renegotiations are nearing.

“To prevent the union from taking any further course of redress we are calling on the government to intervene and bring about swift, amenable resolves with the Emera Company and its affiliate, to make Grand Bahama Power bright again,” he said.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment