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Union boss optimistic about upcoming meeting with PM

TRAVIS CARTWRIGHT-CARROLL
Guardian Staff Reporter
travis@nasguard.com

Published: Dec 19, 2012

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Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson yesterday said that an initial meeting between the Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) and Prime Minister Perry Christie may finally lead to a resolution of a number of outstanding issues.

“I’m reasonably optimistic that we may be able to find common ground and reach a reasonable conclusion,” he said.

Ferguson called the meeting “conducive” but would not go into specifics.

Union leaders met with Christie on Monday afternoon and are scheduled to meet with him again tomorrow, according to Ferguson.

The union, which is negotiating its industrial agreement, reached an impasse when the government’s negotiating team told the BCIAWU that it could not deal with the financial aspect of the agreement.

The union is also seeking an advance on its overall financial package by the end of the year despite the recent credit rating downgrade by international ratings agency Moody’s.

Yesterday Christie said he did not want to meet with the union without Minister of Labour Shane Gibson, who is out of the country.

“We’ve just been downgraded, that must mean something to people and if I have to translate that and have the Ministry of Finance translate that for them, I will.

“On the other hand they (the union) speak of having been out there in the wilderness for a long time, and they are simply asking to see whether or not there is something we are able to do for them in the short term.

“I told them that as soon as the minister comes back I would look at the books and see what the books say to us in terms of what they are asking for, and we’ll let them know.”

Members of the BCIAWU took strike action during the lead up the May 7 general election after failing to reach any understanding with the Ingraham administration on its industrial agreement, and what the union branded an illegal shift system.

Gibson recently said that the shift system would remain in place.

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