[Bahamas] Air Traffic Union Has Held Strike Poll

Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers’ Union
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[Bahamas] Air Traffic Union Has Held Strike Poll

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Sep 19, 2014

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2014/sep ... rike-poll/

[Bahamas] Air Traffic Union Has Held Strike Poll
NICO SCAVELLA
Thursday, September 18, 2014

LASHAN Gray, president of the Bahamas Air Traffic Controller’s Union, yesterday said it is “prepared to act” if the Department of Civil Aviation does not refrain from continuing to “victimise” two employees and bring resolution to “outstanding” health matters plaguing the union’s members.

At a press conference yesterday, Mrs Gray announced that the Bahamas Air Traffic Controller’s Union (BATCU) had conducted its first strike poll and is now prepared to do “whatever is necessary” to “achieve the best results” for workers whose rights are being “violated in the workplace.”

Her comments come after an earlier complaint to the Department about two employees who are being unfairly disciplined for bringing “relief” to employees suffering poor health and safety conditions at work.

“To date the Civil Aviation department has initiated a meeting with respect to an attempt to set up a health and safety committee,” she said. “In that vein a health and safety committee has not been established. We cannot expect, nor be satisfied that a single meeting has brought about conclusion to our matters, lest we be taken for granted.

“Discipline is expected to be swift if it is necessary. To have a long, delayed, torturous process is nothing more than an intimidation tactic in my estimation. The BATCU, wherever we are throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, will not accept intimidation by anyone. These individuals are being unfairly disciplined, there are no grounds for the disciplinary action that is being proposed, and we continue to stand for the rights of our workers so that they are all protected within the Bargaining Unit of the BATCU.”

Earlier this month Mrs Gray announced that the BATCU would go “as far as it needs to go” to combat the Civil Aviation department’s disciplinary action of two union members who sought to give relief to employees suffering from poor working conditions due to departmental “negligence”.

The employees had proposed a temporary suspension of air traffic services because of the conditions in which workers were placed, a move Mrs Gray said was in accordance with international and local regulations.

Mrs Gray said their actions ended in employees having to go up nine floors with bottled water just to flush non-working toilets, a problem that was swiftly remedied as a result of their proposal. Because of this, however, the union claims the employees are being unfairly disciplined.

Mrs Gray said the health and safety situation for air traffic controllers was “outstanding for a very long time” and a “direct result of the employer’s failure to adhere to its legal obligations.”

A day later in the House of Assembly, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna Martin called Mrs Gray’s victimisation claims “reckless, irresponsible, and possibly defamatory,” and rejected as “false, scurrilous and scandalous” the thought of any officer in her ministry being victimised.

Although admitting that the government had failed in its responsibility to establish a Health and Safety Committee for air traffic controllers, Mrs Hanna Martin did not approve of the BATCU’s intent to lobby the union body to take a strike poll. She said that if it took place, it would be “within the context of an employer who is not only listening, but is standing ready to respond to all of the concerns.”

Mrs Gray, however, said the strike poll was a result of the “unfortunate” events that led them to that point. She said to date nothing has been done by Civil Aviation to improve working conditions for members who are constantly “being exposed to significant compromise and the risk of their health”.

“This is not a matter that we take lightly,” she said. “Every worker in this country has a right to have their health and safety concerns addressed. This is a matter that I consider to be irresponsible and reckless, unacceptable in all regards. This union does not wish to go to the extent to which it may be being pushed at this time; however if necessary, and we must act, we are prepared to act.”

According to Mrs Gray 55 out of 59 people voted “Yes” in New Providence. She said the BATCU was still waiting for their Family Island numbers which total “approximately 20 voters” that “will not change the outcome of the election”.

Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson said his organisation was “fully in support” of Mrs Gray and “her efforts to bring relief to the air traffic controllers in the country”.

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