Mar 13, 2024

His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition held a productive discussion today with representatives of the Bahamas National Alliance Trade Union Congress, which allowed attendees to hear the critical concerns of the Union members and gain invlauable insight. Led by Hon. Michael Pintard, the meeting was attended by Union leaders, including President Mrs. Belinda Wilson; 2nd Vice President Mr. Wesley Ferguson; Secretary General Ms. Theresa Mortimer; Assistant Secretary General Ms. Sheila Burrows; Trustee Ms. Narissa King; BPSU Executive Vice President Mr. Craig Bethel; and Executive Member BHCAWU Ms. Quincy Munroe. The Opposition’s delegation included Shanendon E. Cartwright, MP; Senator Hon. Michela Barnett-Ellis; Serfent Rolle; and Nicole Martin.

The Union leaders made it clear that they’ve had enough of the tendency of policymakers to be accessible in Opposition but hands-off—and ocassionally disrespectful—once in control of the Government. The Opposition gave the Union its word that it will remain accountable and accessible and will govern for all Bahamians when it returns to office.

President Wilson raised concerns regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Prime Minister and Trade Unions, emphasizing the necessity for consistent engagement should the Opposition assume leadership. She further underlined the importance of the Opposition specifying which commitments it intends to stand by in writing.

Opposition Leader Michael Pintard assured union leaders of his party’s commitment to addressing the pressing issues brought forth by the unions, including matters related to Crown Land, a livable wage for workers, and the Pension Bill.

The Free National Movement is determined to usher in comprehensive Land Reform to stimulate economic growth and development. The FNM supports Crown Grants to empower non-governmental organizations, including trade unions, to empower workers. This position is consistent with the FNM’s previously stated commitment to providing land for the construction of multi-purpose Junkanoo shacks for Junkanoo groups.

The Free National Movement team is fortunate to benefit from the influence of several former national trade union leaders, many of whom serve in key positions in its organization. Their experiences inform the FNM’s desire to amend existing labor-related legislation, shape new legislation around underaddressed issues such as pensions, and legislate benefits for members of the Orange Economy.

Alarmingly, 2nd Vice President, Mr. Wesley Ferguson, expressed deep concern about the treatment of taxi drivers by Atlantis Resort. Ferguson reported that Atlantis is denying taxi drivers the ability to drop off guests directly in front of the resort; instead, drivers are reportedly forced to drop their passengers off at a dangerously situated roundabout entrance in the middle of the road. If true, this hazardous decision by Atlantis undermines the dignity and livelihoods of hardworking individuals who depend on fair access to their workplace, and it cannot stand. We intend to meet with Atlantis officials to, among other things, determine the facts and seek a resolution.

The FNM is committed to fostering a mutually beneficial relationship with the local community and ensuring the tourism sector’s continued prosperity, including our small and large resorts.

All sides communicated concerns about the heavy-handed manner in which the Minister of Transport distributed and failed to account for the distribution of Taxi plates.

Mr. Craig Bethel of the BPSU emphasized the importance of fair labor practices, calling for advancements in promotions, hazard pay, and the regularization of contractual workers. Concerns were raised regarding the Pension Act, with a call for independent management and streamlined regulations.

The BHCAWU challenged the Opposition to pay close attention to the nature of investments in the tourism sector and the Heads of Agreements the Government agrees to so we can ensure that workers and their representatives are not disadvantaged.

The meeting concluded with a collective resolve to develop an environment conducive to fruitful government and trade union collaboration. The Opposition was happy to have engaged in such a candid and encouraging discussion.

The FNM reaffirms its willingness to continually support workers’ rights while encouraging productivity as we seek to build a prosperous country.

Hon. Michael C. Pintard
Leader of The Opposition
Leader of The FNM
MP for Marco City

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