3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Bahamas

The ITUC does not have an affiliate in the Bahamas.

In practice

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Hotel workers union barred from taking industrial action 31-03-2015

The Baha Mar hotel chain and its Melia resort obtained a Supreme Court injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. on 24 December 2014 that barred the Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union’s (BHCAWU) from taking any form of industrial action industrial action Any form of action taken by a group of workers, a union or an employer during an industrial dispute to gain concessions from the other party, e.g. a strike, go-slow or an overtime ban, or a lockout on the part of the employer. . The union had been in negotiation with the hotel chain for several months over plans to reduce gratuity rates, without reaching agreement. The injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. left the workers without any leverage over their dispute. Only attorneys for Baha Mar and Melia were present at the hearing.

Under the terms of the injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. , the union could not even tell its members to withdraw their labour by staying at home. The injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. prevented the BHCAWU “from inciting and/or inducing any employees of the Melia from abstaining from work, or from picketing picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. or besetting the Melia, or intimidating employees of the Melia or its guests whosoever, or from in any way impeding employees of the Melia from attending work”.

Its terms further warned that persons aware of the injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. , and who breached its terms, would be guilty of contempt of court and subject to “imprisonment, fines or having their assets seized”. Such sanctions would thus apply to Melia staff who acted on their own accord, and not at the union’s behest.

Melia and Baha Mar warned that “Any employee who participates in an illegal work stoppage would be subject to consequences, including possible arrest and immediate dismissal.”. Darren Woods, the Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union’s (BHCAWU) general secretary, pointed out that this left the union virtually impotent, and with no industrial unrest-related leverage over the gratuity dispute. The hotel claimed it needed to lower the gratuity rate to bring it in line with the rates applied in all-inclusive resorts. The union disputed that the hotel’s new format would make it an all-inclusive resort, and the hotel itself recognised that gratuities made up majority of tipped employees’ incomes.

The BHCAWU appealed against the injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. , at a hearing where both sides’ attorneys were present, on 14 January 2015. The appeal cleared the way for them to take industrial action industrial action Any form of action taken by a group of workers, a union or an employer during an industrial dispute to gain concessions from the other party, e.g. a strike, go-slow or an overtime ban, or a lockout on the part of the employer. , and workers voted in favour of strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action beginning on 17 January. They were angered not only by the gratuity dispute but also the dismissal on 13 January, the day before the court hearing, of eight staff members, which they described as scare tactics.

The dispute had not been resolved by the end of March 2015.

Promotion of individual contracts as opposed to collective bargaining30-09-2012

It has been reported that the Grand Bahama Power Company is coercing workers at its power plant on West Sunrise Highway to enter individual contracts instead of negotiating with the Commonwealth Electrical Workers Union (CEWU) as the exclusive bargaining agent bargaining agent A workers’ representative authorised to bargain collectively on behalf of workers in a bargaining unit.

See collective bargaining
of the unit. CEWU made clear the company was abusing the fact that the concluded collective agreement was based on good faith and had not been registered. Furthermore, Obed Pinder, a union shop steward shop steward A union worker who represents the members of a union in dealings with the employer. Often elected by union members who work in the same establishment. was dismissed without justification.

Dismissal of union leader31-01-2013

Vice President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union, Elizabeth Thompson, was dismissed by BTC on 22 October 2012, in violation of an effective collective agreement. She had been employed in the legal department of the company for almost five years. In December 2012, the Joint Labour Movement led by Jennifer Isaacs Dotson and Obie Ferguson announced they would engage in strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action if BTC did not agree to discuss the matter with the union. In January 2013, the government announced its intervention to resolve the conflict regarding Elizabeth Thompson’s reinstatement at BTC.

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