|BEC unions have mixed views on plans to cut overtime pay 6|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Sep 15, 2012
The president of the union representing line staff at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) suggested yesterday the government has to hire more employees at BEC in order to stem expensive overtime costs.
Stephano Greene, who heads the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU), said BEC employees work overtime when called on by their managers, usually in cases of emergencies or equipment failure.
BEC Chairman Leslie Miller said this week that overtime — which costs BEC around $1 million per month — must be eliminated “by any means necessary”.
Miller said BEC workers are among the highest paid workers at any government entity in the country.
Greene said it will be hard to completely eliminate overtime pay.
“With BEC you never know when a generator is going to trip out, when a transformer is going to blow up, when lightening is going to strike equipment, when someone is gong to knock down a pole,” he said.
“These things don’t happen all the time, so it makes no sense to put teams of that nature on 24-hour rotation because there would be days where they wouldn’t have anything to do.”
Greene said many areas of the corporation are short-staffed due a hiring freeze at BEC. Greene said this means more employees are being asked to work beyond their scheduled times.
“Management knows, we communicate that as often as we can the lack of staffing, and the need for staff to fill internal vacancies,” he said.
Ervin Dean, president of the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU), said he is not against the government’s plans to cut overtime.
He said he has heard reports of some employees making as much as $60,000 a year in overtime and has no problem with restructuring that can help the corporation’s hemorrhaging finances.
“We know that the corporation has financial challenges,” Dean said. “As a matter of fact, what we are doing is trying to get shares in the organization.
“One of the things we’re saying is if we own it there’s no way me as an owner is going to allow somebody to make all this money in overtime or come to work and not earn their pay.”
He said his union suggested the government introduce a scheme where employees who were asked to work overtime could only make a maximum of $100 a week.
He said this is included in the BEUMU’s industrial agreement.
Although the corporation has to get its financial house in order, he said there are no plans to cut staff.