|BEC unions reject Miller’s ‘no raises’ comment|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jul 04, 2012
The presidents of the two Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) unions said yesterday their members were “very concerned” by comments made by the corporation’s new chairman recently that there cannot be any increase in salaries over the next five years.
BEC Chairman Leslie Miller said on ‘Darold Miller Live’ on Guardian Radio last Thursday that based on the corporation’s lackluster performance, he told BEC’s two unions not to expect salary increases over the next five years.
“If they (the unions) push for an increase we may then have to cut staff,” Miller said. “We do not want to cut staff, but we have to bend or break.”
However, President of the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) Stephano Greene said Miller, who paid his union a courtesy call recently, never told union officials that and when they consulted the government, they got a different response.
“We have consulted the government where the government has indicated to us that that is not the government’s position,” Greene said.
“So those statements by the chairman on the talk show are probably his personal feelings, but they are not the position of the government.”
Greene said his union, which has almost 900 members, understands BEC’s financial position, but noted that there was much concern when members heard Miller’s statements on the radio.
“My members…and the general public were very concerned,” he said.
“I got tons of calls from the public, from my sister and brother unions and from my members and I tried to assure them that as far as the union is concerned, we heard what the chairman said.
“However, the chairman’s position is not the government’s position unless the...deputy prime minister (Philip Brave Davis) or the prime minister (Perry Christie) indicates that to us.
“We are not concerned with anybody else who makes those types of statements.”
Davis is minister of works and urban development with responsibility for BEC.
Ervin Dean, president of the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU), said his members were not pleased with the news either.
Dean said during a courtesy call Miller told the BEUMU not to expect salary increases.
“[When] my members...heard about the conversation with the chairman right away they started throwing their arms up in the air,” Dean said.
“Even though we respect Leslie Miller and we know we have a lot of work to do, we don’t share that view that we go another five years with a zero percent increase.”
Dean explained that his union previously signed an industrial agreement where members did not get salary increases.
“Then we signed a second two-year industrial agreement where we got seven percent over three years, so effectively we signed a six-year industrial agreement for seven percent,” he said.
“Imagine the members being excited about going another five years with a zero percent increase.”
Dean said he hopes to work something out at the negotiating table, but noted that the union isn’t thinking about any industrial action right now.
“Leslie Miller is professionally called the ‘potcake’,” he said. “His way is his way. The members didn’t like it when they heard it. But then he is only talking and you have to sit down and negotiate right?”