Minister GIbson responds to Industrial Unrest at Bahamas Electricity Corporation
Apr 3, 2013 - 7:23:07 PM
Nassau, Bahamas - Press Statement by The Hon. D. Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour & National Insurance:
On Wednesday April 3, 2013 the Management of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation filed a Trade Dispute I pursuant to Section 68 of the Industrial Relations Act 1970. The dispute was filed as a result of an illegal work stoppage by the members of the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union. As the Minister of Labour & National Insurance, I was advised that the BEWU were protesting the lawful dismissal of an employee of the Corporation.
Executives of the Union were advised to follow the grievance procedure outlined in the Industrial Agreement between the Union and the Corporation, however, before representatives of the Corporation and Union Executives made attempts to convene a meeting at the Corporation’s Headquarters, members walked off their jobs and blocked the entrance to the BIG Pond Compound denying members of the general public access to conduct business with the Corporation.
A Conciliation Meeting between the Union and Corporation Executives was held at the Department of Labour in an effort to resolve the matter. As there was no resolution to the dispute, I as the Minister of Labour & National Insurance and acting in accordance with section 72 of the Industrial Relations Act, referred the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal for settlement in the public’s interest.
Given the fact that BEC is an essential service and pursuant to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act, all BEC employees must immediately cease all industrial actions and are ordered back to work until this issue is resolved.
Further, executives and members of the BEWU are advised that in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1970, if any member of the Union or Executive Committee of the BEWU contravenes the Industrial Relations Act regarding continued industrial action, they will be subject to penalties as outlined in the Act. Penalties include a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and imprisonment and in the case of a union or a member of the executive committee or other governing body of a union, or an employer, to a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The Government is committed to ensuring that members of the public and customers of BEC receive efficient service from the Corporation. Further, the government is prepared to work with all stakeholders including the BEWU to ensure that industrial harmony is the order of the day.
I trust that all BEWU executives and members will also act in good faith and abide by the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act.
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