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DNA concerned about labour unrest
Friday, 23 March 2012 09:36

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is very concerned about the level of labour unrest in our country. The DNA is being inundated with complaints by employees about unfair and discriminatory practices in the work place in both the private and public sector.

DNA candidate for Sea Breeze, Alfred Poitier is investigating several concerns from employees, particularly as it appears to be a significant amount of complaints in regards to foreign supervisors or managers disregarding our labour laws and essentially mistreating their subordinate staff. We are in the process of sending letters to some of these companies in hopes of having these matters addressed amicably and without undue attention being brought to the various entities.

“However, this is not only a labour issue, but a national security issue as well,” Poitier said.

He said that Minister of National Security, Tommy Turnquest, must act expeditiously on the concerns of prison officers. The information provided by the officers with regards to their working conditions and security concerns are not matters to be taken lightly.

“The security of our nation, the health and life of these officers are not trivial matters. Procrastination is not an option. The Minister must ensure a fair and quick review of the issues is done and corrective measures taken immediately,” Poitier said.

As for the conditions under which these officers work, our Government cannot appear to be in breach of the laws of our country. It appears that adequate consideration is not being given by the management of the prison with regards to the health and safety in the work place legislation.

Poitier noted that all Governments are to provide assistance and protection to their citizens when needed. While it is commendable that the Government made an attempt to assist citizens with unemployment benefits and the National Drug Plan, we, as Bahamians, must be mindful of those that assist in the issuing of the service.

It is understood that for the most part additional employees were not hired to assist in several areas at the National Insurance Board although a significant amount of responsibility was added to the entity due to the implementation of these programs. We clearly understand that an employer may assign additional duties to an employee, which is not an issue.

“However, the issue comes when the additional work requires that the employee must work additional hours to complete the tasks in particular if they are not management personnel without overtime compensation. Our government must protect its workers according to the laws of the land!” said Poitier.

“Again, I ask that the government be mindful of the laws of the country. If the Government or entity of the Government appears to be in breach of the laws of the land, then how can we expect non-governmental entities to abide by those same laws? There are other issues at National Insurance Board (NIB) that I was present and heard being presented to the media by representatives of the employees,” he said.

The DNA encourages the NIB to move hastily to host the employees’ bargaining unit to ensure both sides are in compliance with the standing contract, as well as the various labour laws of our country. There is no need for these matters to be allowed to go to the point of industrial action. It is important that employers keep in mind that Unions or employees have no legal ground to protest, unless labor laws and industrial agreements are being followed.

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