Bahamas – The Ministry of Labour and National Insurance (ML&NI) is extremely concerned with a number of public statements made in the print and electronic media regarding the possibility of strike action by trade unions associated with the Commonwealth of the Bahamans Trade Union Congress. The Government remains committed to the concept of partnership with all trade unions and will keep the channels of communication open for discussions with trade union leaders.
In an effort to update the public and clarify any misconceptions resulting from the public statements made by Mr. Obie Ferguson, President of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress (CBTUC) regarding a pending strike by affiliates of the CBTUC, the ML&NI can confirm that the following trade unions and association have matters before the Industrial Tribunal pursuant to the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1970:
• The Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union,
• The Bahamas Nurses Union,
• The Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers,
• The Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association,
• The Bahamas Customs Immigration Allied Workers Union,
• The Bahamas Educators Managerial Union
On May 6th, 2014, in The Tribune, President Ferguson was quoted as saying
“…. there is nothing the government can do to stop the withdrawal of labour of hundreds of unionized and non-unionized workers in the coming days”.
The ML&NI wishes to refute this statement and remind President Ferguson and affiliates of the CBTUC of the provisions of Section 77 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act Chapter 321 of the Statute Laws of The Bahamas which states;
“No employee shall go on strike and no employer shall declare a lock-out, and no union or member of the executive committee or other governing body of a union shall call a strike or declare a lock-out in consequence of a trade dispute while proceedings taken in relation to that dispute are pending before the Tribunal or the Court of Appeal.”
As stated in the Ministry’s press statement published on Thursday, 28th August 2014 in The Tribune, The Nassau Guardian and broadcast on various radio stations, any strike action taken by the above mention trade unions and or associations, while the dispute was before the Tribunal constitutes a breach of section 77 and is deemed a criminal offence as stated by Supreme Court Justice Maynard in his judgment in Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union v The Minister of Labour and Immigration and Another FP/PUB/jrv/0001/2006 where he states at paragraph 31:
“……then it appears to me that under section 77, a trade dispute proceedings are pending before the Industrial Tribunal and in these circumstances it would be an offence for any employee to go on strike or for any union or member of the executive committee or governing body of the union to call a strike”
In the same Tribune article, President Ferguson was quoted in the second paragraph as saying:
“……. a mass rally, tonight will inform the workers why the union has decided to strike and also to decide on which days the strike will be called”
The ML&NI is most concerned of the implications of President Ferguson’s statement, wherein he appears to be calling members of a number of trade unions and associations, which are affiliated with the CBTUC, to take strike action when he is aware of the contents of section 74(3) of the Industrial Relations Act. Finally, the ML&NI wishes to caution President Ferguson regarding his statement in the Tribune’s article where he was quoted as saying:
“The purpose of this meeting is to inform the workers as to the issues are and for them to understand there needs to be a recess of about two to three days. We will also make the determination tonight when they will strike.”
As a leading Trade Unionist, President Ferguson must be mindful of the provisions of
Section 74(2) of the Act which states:
It shall not be lawful for any person or any trade union to declare, instigate, incite others to take part in or otherwise act in furtherance of, a strike or lock-out when there is not in relation to the matter in question a trade dispute in relation to which all the conditions of subsection (1) have been satisfied.
The instigation or incitement of members to take part in or in furtherance of a strike when the matter is before the Industrial Tribunal would be in contravention of the relevant provisions of the Act.
The ML&NI supports all workers and will continue to defend their rights to take part and participate in lawful demonstrations and strike action pursuant to the statutes laws of The Bahamas and Judgments of the Court. President Ferguson is reminded that all employees and employers are subject to the laws as expressed by Justice Maynard in paragraph 9 of his ruling in Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union v The Minister of Labour and Immigration and Another
The ML&NI anticipates that the Trade Disputes referred to the Industrial Tribunal regarding affiliates of the CBTUC will be scheduled for a hearing and resolved in an amicable manner in the shortest possible time but is prepared, even at this stage, to enter into discussions with Mr. Ferguson and his Team, at any convenient date and time, in an effort to resolve the matters in an amicable fashion. The ML&NI attaches a copy of the judgment of Maynard J (Ag.) in the case of Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union v The Minister of Labour and Immigration and Another.
Brave presentation in defence of Bahamas’ financial services reputation by PM Davis
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, October 1, 2022 – Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis is again calling for equality in the financial services sector and for the United Nations to leverage its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global anti-money laundering de-risking and tax cooperation matters.
In addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, September 24, Prime Minister Davis said the Bahamas is one of the best-regulated countries in the world, yet it has been under attack by international bodies and placed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blacklist while transgressions in the developed world are ignored.
He questioned why this was the case and highlighted some disparities in the financial sector.
“Why is it that European states that operate frameworks akin to that of high-risk or blacklisted countries, are not even eligible for inclusion on these lists? Why are all the countries targeted – all of them – small and vulnerable, and former colonies of European states? We find it astounding that the $2-$3 trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through the developed countries, are never flagged as causes for concern,” articulated Phillip Davis, addressing the 77th session in New York.
Prime Minister Davis further noted that there are elements of racism in the decision-making when it comes to regulating black-governed countries in the financial services sector. He also declared that black-governed countries matter as well.
And yet my country, which is widely recognized as one of the best-regulated countries in the world, and other countries like The Bahamas, are singled-out for such reputational attacks? The robust regulatory regimes of our Central Bank, Securities Commission, and Insurance Commission, are chastised on minor details of technical process, while much bigger transgressions in the developed world are ignored.
The evidence is mounting, that the considerations behind these decisions have less to do with compliance, and more to do with darker issues of pre-judged, discriminatory perceptions. Black-governed countries also matter.”
Davis also highlighted the need for reforms that apply to all in the global financial system.
“Mr. President: We support the call for reforms in the global financial system to make it more relevant to the needs of today. But those reforms need ambition. They need to go beyond the incremental. And they need to apply to all. For example, the community of international financial institutions are in a position to forgive the debt incurred by the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should do so.”
Will US President Biden deliver on Climate Change funding?
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, October 1, 2022 – US President Joe Biden has reiterated his promise that low income countries, which are also low carbon emitters will receive increased climate aid from the US to the tune of $11 billion per year.
The President was speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly recently where he maintained his administration was working with Congress to get the funds which would ‘help lower-income countries implement their climate goals and ensure a just energy transition.’
The plan was announced in September 2021 and is a reflection of the USA’s part in the 2010 global pledge made by developed countries to give $100 billion annually in climate financing to developing nations each year. Biden has indicated that the plan will be in effect by 2024.
While he stressed at the UN that the need is ‘enormous’ the President is having trouble convincing lawmakers at home. So far the funding which must be approved by Congress has not materialized. The United States Congress is known for having a particularly tight hold on the national purse in regards to climate change funding.
In fact congress dedicated only a little over $1 billion to climate change this year according to Bloomberg. The US also has a history of promising funding for climate change but not delivering on those high priced promises.
Whether this $11 billion will actually get to nations like those in the Caribbean region is yet to be seen.
This year, the General Assembly heard from 190 speakers, including 76 Heads of State, 50 Heads of Government, four Vice-Presidents, five Deputy Prime Ministers, 48 Ministers and seven Heads of Delegations according to General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi as he summed up the first in-person General Debate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hurricane Ian impact on Cayman Islands
By Sherrica Thompson
#Cayman, October 1, 2022 – The Cayman Islands experienced fierce winds and high seas from Hurricane Ian on Monday, as the storm passed offshore, causing little lasting damage.
Some areas on the island experienced flooding as low-lying condo complexes and some residential back roads were inundated with water. Almost 4,000 homes were without power on Monday; however, most had electricity restored by the evening.
There were also no reports of any injuries, deaths, or serious structural damage. The country started its restoration process on Monday afternoon, clearing debris from the roads, surveying the damage and providing support to residents where needed.
“While we have been very fortunate to have been spared the worst of a potentially very serious storm, I’m extremely pleased to have seen the efforts made by the Caymanian public to prepare for ‘the worst, while praying for the best. In this situation, this is simply the safest, most strategic thing to do,” the Premier said
Despite the all-clear being issued on Monday evening, the Ministry of Education announced that government schools will remain closed to students until Wednesday, 28 September.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, authorities have declared emergencies in six areas, with forecasters warning of storm surges on the coast along with flash floods and mudslides.
Tens of thousands of people were told to leave their homes and seek shelter. Cuba could see up to 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Ian dramatically intensified and is blamed for at least two dozen deaths in Florida; where the storm struck with near category five force winds and a near 20 foot storm surge.
Over 700 rescue operations were activated in Florida in the aftermath of the storm, which is still wreaking havoc in the U.S.
Cayman photo credit: RC Cord
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