Was the Davis Government Good for Workers?

In the Bahamas, the trade union movement has historically played an important and influential role in the equal treatment of workers, the achievement of a majority vote, and the struggle for the development of the modern Bahamas economy.

The country’s modern political history dates back to 1942, when the Burmese riots broke out.

Decades of trade union movement travels are intertwined with the Progressive Liberal Party’s journey, when the Black Bahamans governed their business and provided them and their educational and economic opportunities when they were formed in 1953. It embodies a new desire to access. child.

With this historic relationship in mind, but more importantly, a strong desire to form Bahama’s next government was unionized by Philip Davis and PLP three weeks before the September 16 general election. Signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The Union Council (TCU) and the National Trade Union Bahamas Council (NCTU) pledge to address major labor issues if elected by the government.

At the time of signing, PLP leader Davis said: The labor movement has determined the political direction of all governments in the history of our democracy.

“Undoubtedly, the working class has realized our Bahamas’ democracy. Therefore, I crush and ignore the organized workforce is a fundamental attack on democratic values. I firmly believe that. “

Among other pledges, the PLP has enacted a living wage, promised to supply each affiliated union with a parcel of land, build a national headquarters, and provide full implementation of national health insurance.

The parties to the MOU have agreed to amend the legislation to strengthen the role of mediators and ensure that the judgment of the Industrial Court can be enforced without delay.

They agreed to work to implement the provisions of the National Development Plan, which the Davis administration has not resumed.

The parties have agreed to work towards enacting a comprehensive consumer protection law.

They also agreed that the government’s labor movement and PLP should meet occasionally, but quarterly to consider the progress of this Memorandum and mutual concerns.

The PLP government has agreed to “use its excellent offices to ensure the spirit and wording of the law on industrial agreements in the hotel, tourism and other sectors.”

At the time of signing the memorandum, Davis said the document showed a unity of labor in the Bahamas.

But nine months after its signing, Labor leaders’ reaction to what the Davis administration did for trade unions has not been unified.

This is not surprising given the backlash from some unions to the memorandum after the agreement was announced.

Nine members of the Bahamas National Trades Union Congress have accused NCTUB of signing the PLP and MOU, calling it “dishonest behavior” that was not done on behalf of the majority of the members of its affiliated unions. ..

The then Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minis, tried to use the friction of the labor movement to embarrass Davis and PLP, portraying the signature of the memorandum as a fraudulent act.

“To gain power, they will say almost anything. They are bankrupt in one or more ways,” Minis said at the time.

However, Davis and PLP argued that the party has long been a working-class Bahamian party, committed to fostering strong relationships with unions and bringing great benefits to workers.

Mixed view

The government is far from doing that, but President Kim Lee Ferguson of the Bahamas Public Services Union insisted on Monday.

“… Almost nine months have passed and nothing seems to have been resolved,” Ferguson said.

“We are concerned about whether this administration is the prestigious person they said before taking office.”

By the way, BPSU was one of the NCUB member organizations that criticized the signing of the contract with PLP last year.

Given that the BPSU is not a party to the MOU, we questioned the president’s stance.

Attempting to bind someone to a transaction that you choose not to participate in does not make much sense to us. This does not mean that unsigned unions do not have the right to expect certain things from the government.

That’s exactly what Kimsley Ferguson did. National Review yesterday.

“I can’t say anything [the MOU] However, labor relations laws show how employers should respond to employee representatives. I can’t talk to NCTUB about what they didn’t do, “Ferguson said.

“My comments are based on what they (PLPs) are trying to do, regardless of the fact that NCTUB or BPSU did not sign on. [the MOU].. What they have done is a general statement that they respect long-standing problems. I don’t think they were choosing it. If so, they need to let us know. “

Davis and PLP have been criticized by the BPSU, but QC Obie Ferguson, chair of the Trades Union Congress, said: National Review Davis and PLP are suitable for trade union movements.

“We are very pleased to see progress made on the items agreed in the memorandum,” said Obie Ferguson.

“There are some things we couldn’t solve and we are working hard to find a solution …. We are having a meeting with the Prime Minister, which was not available from the previous administration. We are meeting with the Minister of Labor. , I’ve been trying to resolve the difference. “

He said there were many issues that progressed and were resolved, including issues related to customs and immigration workers, Grand Lukayan workers, and members of the Bahamas Electric Workers’ Union.

He said the union would soon meet with the government to discuss finding a living wage. It will obviously need to be consulted with the employer’s representative.

“There are a number of other issues we are currently working on, and we are very pleased that issues that have not yet been finalized will be finalized in a short period of time,” said TUC President.

He declared, “This will be a good worker’s day for the labor movement and the Bahamian workers.”

Ferguson said the type of approach adopted by the Davis administration is significantly improved over the approach adopted by the previous administration, which had a “terrible” relationship with the union.

Davis and PLP can rest assured that at least one segment of the labor movement is doing it right, but keep in mind that TUC is not the most comprehensive union with the most members. ..

“Our number may not be the largest, but we are the most representative of the more than 200,000 workers in the country,” said Obie Ferguson.

Umbrella unions have historically made some differences, but it’s promising to see them going to march together on Worker’s Day next Friday.

On the other hand, the Davis administration has a lot to consider when dealing with many unresolved labor issues. Many involve financial considerations and we are experiencing an incredibly difficult financial situation.

The jury is discussing what the “new day” crew can achieve for Bahamian workers.

Perhaps the Prime Minister will provide some cues in this regard in his budget communication in Congress today. Was the Davis Government Good for Workers?

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