National Congress of Trade Unions of The

Volume 1

January, 2013

INSIDE THIS ISSUE
BEWU Responds To Executive Chairman Supreme Court Orders BHCAWU Elections Contract Workers at WSC Made Permanent Citizens for Justice Demands Resolution for City Market Workers NCTUB President Addresses Constitution Committee BFSU Holds AGM Pg. 2 Pg. 4 Pg. 5 Pg. 6

Pg. 7 Pg. 12

Uncommon Courage, Remem- Pg. 13 bering The General Strike Useful Links Pg. 15

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The BEWU is extremely disheartened with the Executive Chairman, who continues to put our members’ health and lives at risk by releasing and speaking about salaries and overtime that employees work at BEC, this needs to STOP! It is surprising that the Chairman does not tell the Bahamian Public how much money he is paid as Executive Chairman of BEC, if he is receiving the benefit of the BEC insurance plan and not paying for insurance coverage and whether or not there were any increases in salaries for him and the board of directors at BEC? It is was with total shock that we the members of The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) sat yesterday January14, 2013 and read personal BEC information in the Nassau Guardian and watched and listened to Mr. Leslie Miller – Executive Chairman of BEC, continue to release private and personal information as it relates to employee salaries and overtime payments without telling the full story as it relates to working of overtime within BEC. It is surprising that the very same information released to the press from the Internal Audit Department is the same Hon. Leslie Miller Executive Chairman, BEC information presented by the Chairman in Parliament on Monday. It is our hope that an investigation takes place to find out who released the private and personal BEC information to the press and that person is terminated immediately! The union also hopes that an investigation is made to take place on some of the financial decisions made by the chairman and the board since this board took office, inclusive of the parking lot, the Christmas party and the new security firm, just to name a few!

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The impression out there being placed by the chairman is that employees are going out there, working overtime and stealing from the corporation. This is the furthest thing from the truth, as this would constitute a major breach of contract and employees can be terminated for stealing from the corporation. It is very surprising to the union that the chairman NEVER tells the Bahamian Public that employees cannot work overtime unless they are authorized to work by the corporation. The chairman refuses to tell the Bahamian Public that employees cannot take it upon themselves to work overtime because if they do they would not get paid. The chairman refuses to tell the Bahamian Public that each overtime form has to be agreed to and signed by someone of executive authority within the corporation before the employee can be paid. The chairman is refusing to tell the Bahamian Public that employees are required and requested to work overtime and when employees refuse to work overtime they are frowned upon by the corporation and in some cases they are discriminated against if they refuse to work overtime. Seeing that overtime being worked at BEC is such a big issue, and seeing that the overtime payments at BEC is being mainly associated by the chairman for the high cost of electricity, the union is encouraging the chairman of BEC to instruct management at BEC to stop employees from working overtime immediately. Additionally, the union hopes that the corporation does not hire outsiders to come in and perform work during overtime hours as this will also contribute to high electricity bills. The union also hopes that the chairman will get rid of all of the foreigners currently working at Clifton pier power station and any other foreigners currently employees at BEC as this also assists in the high cost of electricity. The union will also assist in the reduction of overtime within the corporation by asking our members not to work overtime. It is the union’s hope, that when the chairman instructs the corporation to stop all overtime, and gets rid of all the foreigners working at BEC, he reduces electricity bills for the Bahamian Public immediately!

Information submitted by Mr. Stephano Greene President, BEWU

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It would seem that the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (BHCAWU) is preparing for yet another contentious election. In a Supreme Court Decision, Chief Justice, Sir Michael Barnett ruled that the BHCAWU must hold elections on or before 28th February, 2013. This follows a challenge by Mr. David Beckford, Chief Shop Steward, against the Executive Council charging that elections should have been held in May, 2012. Mr. Beckford claims that by not holding its Tri-Annual Meeting and general elections last year, the current executives beached the constitution. The Executive Council however, contends that their team was elected in elected April, 2010, subsequently elections should be held in 2013. Notwithstanding this, Chief Justice Barnett ruled that their 3 year term began in 2009.
A-Team Reloaded

The dispute lies in the three elections which were held. The current team was first elected 26th May, 2009, but the results were overturned by the Supreme Court in July, 2009. A second election was held 29th September, 2009 and both elections were overturned in the Court of Appeal and a third election ordered. Ms. Martin and the A-Team were elected 27th April, 2010, nevertheless, Ms. Martin has decided not to appeal and will comply with the Court’s ruling. Mr. Beckford will challenge Ms. Martin for the Presidency. The BHCAWU is the largest union in the country and Ms. Martin is its first female president and one of the youngest persons to lead a trade union.

Ms. Nicole Martin President, BHCAWU

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The Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) and the Water and Sewage Corporation (WSC) have finally come to an agreement that ALL Contractual Workers at WSC will be made permanent after one year of service. This agreement will impact 103 employees. In December, the anniversary/incremental dates for 94 of these employees were reverted back to the dates they were hired. These employees also received lump sum payments of $600.00 and Christmas Bonuses of $700.00. To GOD be the glory.
Information submitted by the BUSAWU BUSAWU Contract Workers

BUSAWU Executive Officers

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Citizens For Justice (CFJ) is demanding that justice be served and that displaced workers of City Market immediately be paid their long overdue severance pay. Citizens For Justice has joined in the fight of the many angry and abused former employees of City Market. CFJ is appealing to unions throughout the nation to assist these workers in bringing this matter to an end. Bishop Walter S. Hanchell, Chairman of the advocacy organization, stated, that "We are appalled that this matter is still pending after more than a year. It is shameful for Bahamian workers of a company that was once a landmark in business, have to suffer in these challenging times and be denied what is rightfully and lawfully theirs. These workers are not looking for any handouts but are demanding what is legally due to them. We have been advised that millions of dollars are owed to non-managerial workers, line staff and pensioners. CFJ is calling for immediate intervention by Minister Shane Gibson in this grave injustice that has been committed against these workers who have given many years of stellar service to City Market. We will be communicating with Minister Gibson, who we believe will cause this matter to be resolved. Why are labour laws not being enforced in this matter? After the supermarket chain was closed and sold, workers should have been paid since March 30, 2012. We hope that this is not a case of political interference. The owners of City Market have been paid for the sale and CFJ would like to know why the workers have not received their severance pay? How could the owners of City Market sleep at night knowing what they have done to suffering mothers and fathers who can no longer feed their families or pay their bills. We are not talking about peanuts. It is alleged that $2.8 million is due to non-managerial workers, $1.5 million is owed to line staffers and $5.6 million is owed from the pension fund.

Submitted by Bishop Walter Hanchell, Citizens for Justice

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The Following are the remarks made by Mrs. Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson President, NCTUB to the Bahamas Constitution Committee

The National Congress of Trade Union Bahamas (NCTUB) is thankful for being invited to make a presentation to the Committee in their effort to consult with the Bahamian people prior to making recommendations to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. This presentation comes after extensive consultation and collaboration with the elected officers of the twenty-three (23) Affiliates of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas, representing over forty thousand workers (40,000) in the Bahamas. It is the collective view of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas, that the Committee considers putting the following matters to the people of the Bahamas in amending the Constitution. Equal Treatment for Men & Women – The Constitution should be amended to remove all forms of discrimination between Bahamian men and women including provisions/

Mrs. Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson President, NCTUB

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stipulations associated with the rights of children and of spouses to work. In reviewing The Bahamas Constitutional Review Commission Preliminary Report & Provisional Recommendations 2006 Constitution Review Committee, the Congress fully supports the recommendations contained regarding equal treatment but wish to highlight two main points namely: The Constitution should provide that non-national spouses of Bahamian citizens should be treated equally. Such persons upon marriage should have a right to reside and work in the Bahamas and own property jointly and upon application the right to become a Bahamian citizen 5 years after marriage subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy. The NCTUB recommends that the Constitutional provision which provides automatic Bahamian citizenship for children born outside The Bahamas to married Bahamian men, should also be provided for children born outside The Bahamas to married Bahamian women (regardless of the nationality of their spouse). Discrimination – The NCTUB would like to see any forms of discrimination based on sex or gender be eliminated in the Constitution. Gender equality should be part of the foundation of our Constitution. Marriage – The NCTUB would like to see what is contained presently in the Constitution that “marriage should mean a union between a man and a woman” remain. Public Service Commission – The NCTUB is of the view that the present structure, tenure and established procedures of the Public Service are grossly inadequate and do not meet the changing environment of the Public Service. The NCTUB recommends that the Constitution be amended to create a Fulltime Public Service Commission, with commissioners who have the security of tenure or fixed-term contracts and adequate staffing to meet the challenges of addressing public sector reform. Freedom of Association – The right to join and associate with the trade union of your choice is enshrined in the Constitution; however, the Industrial Relations Act 1970 mandates that independent trade unions must seek written authorization of the Minister of Labour before they can become affiliated or associated

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with any internationally constituted or organized union or agency outside The Bahamas. Additionally, the Industrial Relations Act 1970 mandates that independent trade unions in the Bahamas can only organize within their specific craft. This provision is not only in violation of the Constitution of the Bahamas but is also in breach of ILO Convention 87 “Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention.” The NCTUB recommends that the Constitution be amended to ensure that Parliament is restricted from enacting any such legislation to prevent Freedom of Association. Right of Bahamian Citizens to Gamble – The Constitution should be amended to reflect that all Bahamians should have the right, if they so choose, to participate in any form of gaming within the Bahamas and any law that discriminates against any Bahamian and restricts such rights should be voided. Appointment of Senators – The Constitution should be amended to change the manner and tenure of three or more mature representative Senators. These three independent Senators should be appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with three social partners within the society, namely (i) the Trade Union Movement, (ii) the Employers Association and (iii) the religious community. Additionally, these three Senate appointments should not be revoked without the express permission of the respective social partners. Powers of the Prime Minister – The NCTUB fully supports the recommendations made in the 2006 report. The NCTUB, however, wishes to recommend the following: The Prime Minister’s powers should be limited and involve consultation with civil society before the exercise of executive power. There should be a truly independent electoral and boundaries commission to supervise Bahamian elections in reference to boundaries, election donations, election dates and unnumbered or identifiable ballots. An Integrity Commission should be established to be a watchdog over the affairs of political and senior civil servants.

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The many appointments that the Prime Minister makes should be reformed and maybe transferred to a Head of State versus a Governor General in consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Limited Term of Prime Minister – It is the view of the NCTUB that the Constitution be amended to ensure that elected Prime Minister is restricted to two consecutive terms. Terms of Members of Parliament – There should be some system of recall of delinquent or otherwise Members of Parliament. Fixed Time for General Elections – The Constitution should be amended to establish a fixed date for General Elections every five (5) years. We understand that this does not follow the Westminister tradition on which our elections were based on. Local Government – The NCTUB would like to ask the Government to examine the present local government system established on our Family Islands, thereby enshrining local government in the Constitution and giving it more autonomy. Judges – The NCTUB recommends that the retirement age of judges be amended from 65 to 70. In most progressive countries there is no longer a retirement age at all for the citizens. We must be cognizant that with the many technological advances in medicine, citizens will live longer. Therefore we should consider not having a retirement age imposed upon the citizenry. Control of Public Finances – An amendment should be made to allow for more public debate and consultation on the use of public funds, and the creation of the annual budget. Citizenship – The NCTUB agrees with the comments of the 2006 Commission Report regarding citizenship. I wish to note the following points: Children born to Bahamian parents (male and female) outside of the Bahamas are entitled to become citizens, and the matter of dual citizenship or nationality should be stated. Bahamian citizenship should not be denied because persons possess another nationality. In the case of non Bahamians acquiring Bahamian citizenship, should renunciation of the other citizenship be required? Preferably, not. How is it that so many Bahamians hold dual citizenship? This is not a requirement in attaining

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American or Canadian citizenship. So, why does the Bahamas require renunciation of previous citizenship? The NCTUB urges the government to make any necessary amendments to the Constitution of The Bahamas to take control over immigration and national security of The Bahamas. In conclusion, the NCTUB feels that there should be greater participation of the citizens of The Bahamas through civil society and the trade union movement, for example, in the governance of our country. Governments must be held accountable to the citizenry through being honest, transparent and forthcoming. On behalf of the working people of our country! Solidarity!

Mrs. Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson President, NCTUB 11th January, 2013

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The Bahamas Financial Services Union (BFSU) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) Saturday, 12th January, 2013. The theme was “Bridging the Gap between Employer and Employee”. The speaker was Mr. Antonio Stubbs of the Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation. The following day the membership worshiped at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, Wulff and Baillou Hill Roads. The BFSU thanked all for their continued support.

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The General Strike of 1958 was one of the most significant events in Bahamian history. The battle which resulted in the General Strike began on November 1, 1957 because the Government granted white tour companies the exclusive right to transport persons between the Nassau International Airport and the city. In protest, the President of the Taxi Union (Clifford Darling) ordered his members to block the road to the airport. On November 2, 1957 the Taxi Union called on the Bahamas Federation of Labour (BFL) for support. Randol Fawkes, leader of the BFL instructed the Airport, Airline and Allied Workers Union (AAAWU) headed by Cadwell Armbrister, Clement Pinder and Anthony Roberts to go on a sympathy strike, thereby closing down the airport. An eight-week truce was declared paving the way for negotiations, meanwhile a number of members of the Taxi Union were charged with assaulting police officers. Unfortunately, at the end of the truce the government voiced its support for the white tour companies. Randol Fawkes and Lynden Pindling then sought an audience with Sir Oswald R. Arthur (Governor) to appoint a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the dispute, their request was denied. Consequently, on January 10th, 1958 the Taxi Union requested the support of the BFL resulting in a general strike. On January 12th, 1958, Randol Fawkes and Lynden Pindling entered the Emerald Beach Hotel on West Bay Street and ordered all employees to go on strike. By January 13th, every hotel in the city was closed. By January 14th, the electrical workers, the telephone workers, the construction workers the street sweepers, the garbage collectors, the airport workers, the messengers, and the clerks were on strike. The strike ended on January 29, 1958 with the signing of an agreement between the Taxicab union and

Clifford Darling, Taxi Union Leader

Cadwell Armbrister Airline Workers’ Union Leader

Randol Fawkes, Leader Bahamas Federation of Labour

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Women picket on Bay Street for the first time in history

In the face of British Colonialism, Bahamian youth displayed uncommon courage and intelligence. “Not a Sweat.”

the Tour Companies. providing more equitable arrangements for transporting passengers between the airport and the city. Other clauses of the agreement included: 1. The establishment of a Labour Department 2. The removal of statutory restrictions of hotels, motels and agriculture workers to organize. 3. The setting up of a Bahamian Transport Authority. During the strike the labour movement received assistance from many regional and international unions paving the way for Mr. Fawkes to travel garnering support resulting in a Royal Commission of Inquiry. On Sunday April 13, 1958 the report of the commission reported its findings that included: 1. Amending Labour Laws. 2. The abolition of the company vote. 3. The approval of one vote to every man over the age of 21. 4. Increasing the seats in the House of Assemble from 29 to 33.

Information extracted from “The History of Trade Unions in the Bahamas” by Robert Farquharson Photographs The Faith That Moved The Mountain A Memoir of a Life and the Times By Sir Randol F. Fawkes www.sirrandolfawkes.com

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ILO Turin Centre http://www.itcilo.org/en International Trade Union Confederation http://www.ituc-csi.org/rio-20.html the ILO Workers' Relations Bureau http://www.ilo.org/actrav/lang--en/index.htm Decent Work Country Programme, The Bahamas http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/program/ dwcp/download/bahamas.pdf ILO Caribbean http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Regionsandcountries/ LatinAmericaandCaribbean/lang--en/index.htm Trade Union History, Bahamas www.nctu-bahamas.org www.sirrandolfawkes.com

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Dear Friends, We are very happy to have completed another edition of the newsletter for the National Congress of Trade Unions of the Bahamas and we would like to thank each and every one of you who took the time to make a contribution. The name of the newsletter is The Workers’ Voice which was a name that Sir Randol Fawkes gave to the Bahamas Federation of Labor's newspaper in 1959. This current newsletter gives to you, the worker, a voice—a means to communicate with your fellow brothers and sisters in the union. Additionally, through the Workers’ Voice, you now have the opportunity of profiling your union and the work that you are doing. It is our aim to introduce to you all of the affiliate unions attached to the NCTUB. In each edition, we also will bring you content that is historical in nature. History informs us of the struggles that our forbears underwent and the debt of appreciation that we owe them for the sacrifices made. The newsletter will also enable us to document the history that is being made today so that future generations will be inspired by our efforts . Finally would you like to be a part of this communications venture? Do you have a story to tell, an opinion to share? Do you have English, photography, graphic arts design skills? If your answer is ―Yes! then we would appreciate hearing from you. With thanks, Sheleta Collie Chairman, NCTUB Public Relations Committee
National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas
Carter St. & Horseshoe Drive Ph: (242) 356-7459 Fax: (242) 356-7457 E-mail: ncongress@hotmail.com Website: nctu-bahamas.org

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