By JADE RUSSELL
Tribune Staff Reporter
SECURITY officers in the Ministry of Education protested outside the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, saying they are tired of fighting for owed overtime pay, promotions, and insurance.
More than 30 officers stood in harsh weather conditions chanting “pay me what you owe me”.
Sheion Lopez, security officer of Eva Hilton Primary, said security officers need to be respected, adding they put their lives on the line daily to protect school members.
“If something was to happen to us, they going to meet the security first before they get inside the office to who sitting in those seats," she said. "Hear us out. We need our money. We need it now."
She told reporters she worked overtime tirelessly almost every day.
She said she had to leave her children at home while working extra hours, but now she can’t even afford to send her son to college.
“My son come ask me for $2,700 to help him to Snow College," she said. "I only could have looked up at my son. I couldn’t even answer him. Please help me to help my son, not me. Help me to help my children, not me. I just need an answer today in the name of Jesus.”
Tashana Thompson, assistant security officer of Eva Hilton Primary School, also emphasised her grievances. She said the security department hadn’t received promotions in over 40 years. She also noted that security officers don’t get hazardous pay or health insurance.
Some security officers have been working week to week for 20-plus years, but still haven’t been made permanent workers, she said.
Maria Daxon, deputy leader of the Coalition of Independents, and Richard Johnson, vice chairman of the Free National Movement, showed up to support the security officers.
Although the Bahamas Public Service Union represents the security officers, officers said they were unsatisfied by the little support they received from BPSU president Kimsley Ferguson.
One officer called Mr Ferguson’s efforts “lousy”.
For her part, Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin said security officers will be paid this week.
“There was an accumulation of overtime which exceeded the budget of the Ministry of Education," she said. "And we've been working with the Ministry of Education to supplement the funding, and it was a process of auditing, etc., because there were one or two concerns of Ministry of Finance to certain levels. We are now at the point where the Ministry of Finance authorised an initial minimum payment, and they have now authorised the full payment, which is being processed as we speak.”
Mrs Hanna Martin also applauded the BPSU president for advocating for members to have promotions, additional uniforms, and equipment.