Court blocks further illegal strike action by BPSU
The Supreme Court has granted the Airport Authority an interlocutory injunction against the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU), declaring the Kimsley Ferguson-led union is in breach of the Industrial Relations Act by calling, organizing, inducing, inciting or procuring its officers and members to continue to participate in industrial action amounting to a strike.
This means that anyone who continues to strike could be disciplined by the Airport Authority and held accountable by the court.
Over 200 BPSU members have been ordered to return to their specified areas of employment and work when scheduled to do so.
In an ill-advised attempt to get the new Davis administration to honor an unenforceable contract, the BPSU staged an illegal strike affecting the country’s main gateway with no thought to how the move would damage an already fragile tourism industry.
57 staffers of the Airport Authority on New Providence and 170 workers on the Family Islands, who are members of the BPSU did not report to their normal shift, causing frustratingly long lines at airports that resulted in some passengers missing their flights.
More than 4,000 travelers were inconvenienced by the action.
The BPSU received the strike certificate on July 20, 2020 under then-Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes but never used it.
However, two years later as the Bahamas is finally beginning to rebound from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and is attracting more visitors to its shores, Ferguson in his arrogance chose this time to pull the harmful stunt.
The Union President proceeded with his reckless plans despite receiving assurances from senior labour officials that the government was attempting to resolve the matter involving an industrial agreement and money the BPSU claims workers are owed.
“At 8:12 this morning, President Ferguson was advised by the Director of Labour that the matter regarding the Trade Dispute on outstanding payments owed to the members of the BPSU employed by the Airport Authority was referred to the Industrial Tribunal and as such any industrial action, including a planned Sick Out, taken by BPSU could be deemed illegal,” according to Minister of Labor Keith Bell.
Ferguson advised his members to obtain sick slips covering a period of five days in order to “lock the place down” without considering the thousands of Bahamians whose livelihoods depend on tourists not only coming to The Bahamas but having a wonderful enough experience to become repeat visitors.
Bell said he is “prepared to personally intervene in this matter, along with Director Farquharson and the Senior Officers within my ministry and formally invite the President of the BPSU to the Bargaining Table to resolve all outstanding matters amicably.”