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Civil Aviation statement regarding holiday pay for air traffic controllers
Submitted by BIS   
Wednesday, 25 March 2015 07:07
Department of Civil Aviation Statement in Response to
BATCU Communication Regarding Payment for Services Provided
On Public Holidays by Air Traffic Controllers

The public is informed that the Department of Civil Aviation finds it necessary to respond to a press release issued by the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU) on Friday, 20st March, 2015, regarding the issue of payment for services provided on public holidays by air traffic controllers.  In the release, it is alleged by BATCU that air traffic controllers are being discriminated against, due to the fact that they have not been paid for days worked on holidays, and the claim has been made that the rights of controllers are being violated by the Bahamas Government.  The Department of Civil Aviation wishes to dispel the impression given that there has been a deliberate attempt not to pay air traffic controllers for their work on public holidays, and Union officials are aware that payments are in fact being processed to facilitate those payments, as per an agreement reached with the BATCU on December 24th, 2014.

Prior to that December meeting, the practice was to award members of the Bargaining Unit ten days Public Holiday leave at the beginning of each year.  Additionally, persons who worked on any holiday were granted an additional day’s leave, along with a day’s pay, which in fact amounted to three days in total for the one day worked on a holiday.

It is a matter of regret that the Department has also received information suggesting that the Union is proposing to bring stoppage to air traffic services on the said premise of non-payment of holiday pay.  As indicated, such action is not justified and will cause severe economic hardship to the country at a time when every effort is being made to rebuild the national economy.  The Union is advised that while negotiations are proceeding in good faith for a new Industrial Agreement, it is important to exercise goodwill, and for both sides to work together collectively in the interest of the country.
DNA commentary: Hope for a Better Brighter Bahamas
Submitted by the DNA party   
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 07:58

News headlines on Monday were dominated by the tragic passing of a young mother and her two daughters who, according to media reports, drowned after becoming trapped in their vehicle which was seen careening off the Montague Beach ramp on Sunday night. Though not yet confirmed by local authorities, media reports have suggested the possibility of a murder suicide which saw the lives of 2 innocent children snuffed out far too soon.

The Democratic National Alliance joins the rest of the nation in mourning the loss of this family. Our condolences go out to the surviving family and friends of the victims. It is our hope that the peace of God enables them to cope through this very difficult time in their lives.

This tragedy, unfortunately, is a reflection of the level of hopelessness which hundreds of Bahamians now feel. In recent years, hardworking and qualified Bahamians like Shemicka McKinney – a college graduate – have struggled to find employment and maintain their homes, pushing thousands below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the high cost of electricity and more recently Value Added Tax have only added to the country’s misery index while crime and the fear of crime continue to wreak havoc on our lives.

Those problems have only further been compounded by a lack of real leadership in governance where for decades now, the political directorate in this country has been plagued by corruption, cronyism and an overall lack of transparency.

Statement by Immigration Minister on latest developments (March 22)
Submitted by Elcott Coleby   
Monday, 23 March 2015 09:37

I wish to welcome Damien Gomez, the Minister of State for Legal Affairs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to thank him for the work done on behalf of the country at the hearings before the Inter American Human Rights Commission on 20th March.  I thank his minister the Honourable Attorney General for the stellar work done by her team toward ensuring that The Bahamas put its best foot forward.  I wish to thank the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and particularly our staff in Washington D.C. for their work in this matter.

We appeared in this forum in Washington because The Bahamas is keen to ensure that we do all that we reasonably can to protect and defend the reputation of our country.

I am using this opportunity to solicit the support of the media in the continuing conversation on immigration which is a paramount national security issue.  We need the public’s support.

I want to let you know that this is a continuing exercise the fight against illegal migration.  The more we see, the more it suggests that we are fighting a sophisticated criminal enterprise which is seeking to make money at any cost and in the process attempting to destabilize The Bahamas.  All Bahamians must fight this.

On 21 March 2015, acting on intelligence, the RBDF intercepted a  vessel off Abaco that morning around 1 a m. 45 males and 11 females and 5 children intercepted without visas.

Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce position on minimum wage and severance pay
Submitted by Janet Albury   
Monday, 23 March 2015 08:58

The Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is reviewing the minimum wage and severance pay requirements of the nation with a view to potentially increasing and securing the benefits on behalf of employees.  

The Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce (GBCC) fundamentally supports the concepts of free markets.  It believes that free markets promote innovation that improves the world in which we live.  It supports the free movement of financial and intellectual capital, and supports the concept that businesses ought to be free to establish compensation and benefits packages as valued by the market.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, GBCC appreciates that free movement of labour is not universal.  Labour markets are typically artificially restricted by national borders.  These artificial restrictions provide an opportunity for businesses to abuse employees offering their services to the company, especially in a very small market like The Bahamas.  It is thus incumbent on the government to preclude such an abuse without unduly hindering the ability of business to succeed.  Profit is not a dirty word, whether applied to employees or employers.

It is GBCC’s opinion that any approach to preventing employer abuse should be principled and not merely arbitrary.  An arbitrary 36% increase in the minimum wage (exclusive of the impact on NIB contributions) is not appropriate.  A minimum wage should be based on a true living wage which has been researched and updated on a regular basis.  

It is reasonable to expect that an employee who works a full 40 hr. week would, at a minimum, be able to support him/herself without handouts from the State.  It is also reasonable to expect that two parents working a full 40 hr. week would, at a minimum, be able to support their family without handouts from the State.

It is argued that employee, employer, and the community win with a living wage. Employees would be more willing to work, improving productivity and helping the employer reduce worker turnover, and it would help the community when the citizens have enough to have a decent life.  Additionally, any increase required should be phased in over a reasonable period.

Elcott Coleby reviews this week in The Bahamas from March 16-20
Submitted by Elcott Coleby   
Monday, 23 March 2015 08:50

Prime Minister Christie declares “Forestry Awareness Week”

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Perry G. Christie signed a Proclamation declaring the week of March 16 - 21, 2015 ‘Forestry Awareness Week’ in The Bahamas and officially opened a Forestry Awareness Symposium at the College of The Bahamas on Wednesday, March 18. A highlight of the symposium was the planting of the national tree of The Bahamas, the lignum vitae on the college campus in front of the Harry C. Moore Library.

Also commemorating the event was the Environment Minister, Hon. Kenred Dorsett. In an address to students at the Anatol Rodgers High School on Monday, Minister Dorsett highlighted the importance of the forest and trees in particular to our very existence and the need to protect them.

“Trees are the lungs of the earth” said Minister Dorsett and “they help us to balance the amount of oxygen and harmful carbon dioxide in the air. Trees regulate humidity in the air. Trees provide us with food, shelter, shade and jobs to help support us and our families.”

Forestry Awareness Week is being celebrated in The Bahamas this week from 16th – 21st MARCH 2015. This event is celebrated globally every year on the 21st March and is designed to educate the public and raise awareness of the significant benefits provided by trees. Civil society is encouraged to plant a tree in commemoration of this global event.  

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