3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC does not have an affiliate in the Bahamas.

Bahamas ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 2001 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1976.

In practice

Browse by:

Union calls for expedition of legal dispute03-04-2020

Dwayne Woods, president of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU), called on the Supreme Court to expedite the hearing on the injunction blocking Water and Sewerage Corporation workers from taking industrial action. A judicial review regarding the presidency of the Water and Sewerage Management Union must take place before the hearing for the injunction takes place. The judicial review had been set for 20 March. However, Woods said he hopes that date can be pushed up to bring a resolution to the matter, which prevents workers from exercising their right to strike.

NIB employees set to take strike vote31-10-2019

Employees at the National Insurance Board (NIB) planned to take a strike vote on November 1st, with the attorney for the Union of Public Officers, representing NIB line workers, predicting that “well over 90 per cent” of NIB employees are in favor of a strike.

Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson confirmed that the strike poll had been set for Friday the first. Mr Ferguson appeared in court in late October challenging the decision of Labour Minister Dion Foulkes to cancel the last employee strike poll.

“The poll is now set for November 1 between the hours of 10 am and 4pm. The strike poll had been cancelled. The point we had made was that even though there may have been technicalities, we were going to court to get the court to order the poll if the minister chose not to. They came to court and consented to the poll taking place on November 1. It really wasn’t necessary [to go to court],” said Mr. Ferguson.

Ferguson noted his concerns that the minister and director of labour verbally cancelled the strike poll with less than a day’s notice in what he characterised as a “union-busting” move.

Doctors’ strike ruled unlawful21-10-2019

The Bahamas Doctors Union was prohibited from engaging in any form of industrial action over millions in outstanding holiday pay, after a Supreme Court judge ruled that the group’s recent strike action was unlawful.

Justice Ian Winder, in a written ruling, ordered that the union, its officers, servants and agents are now restrained from “organising or procuring its members to strike or to refuse to report to work when scheduled to do so”.

Justice Winder further ruled that union members are prohibited from leaving their place of employment, or otherwise participating “in any other form of industrial action” going forward.

The judge said the BDU “contravened” Section 76 of the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) when it continued to strike despite its obligation to discontinue once Labour Minister Dion Foulkes had referred the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal because the strike had “threatened the public interest” in August.

Thus, Justice Winder said the government was “entitled” to injunctive relief.

However, Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson, who represents the BDU, said Justice Winder’s ruling was “regressive” and implies that until or unless it is overturned, none of the 30 plus unions in The Bahamas will be able to go on strike for any length of time.

Mr Ferguson said Justice Winder’s ruling “conflicts” with what has been repeatedly said by the Court of Appeal concerning labour disputes. “The Court of Appeal has ruled consistently that the tribunal has no powers to impose terms and conditions where there is a bargaining impasse,” he explained. “That must be resolved around the negotiating table.”

Government wins court order forcing halt to strike action by doctors’ union27-08-2019

The Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) was blocked from taking industrial action against the government and ordered to return to work after an injunction granted on 27th August by Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder.

According to Attorney General Carl Bethel, the injunction further ordered that BDU be restrained from contravening Sections 76, 77, and 83 of the Industrial Relations Act. It was also ordered that an ‘inter parties’ hearing be heard on 28th August before Justice Winder.

The injunction came several hours after BDU President Melisande Bassett revealed the union’s intent to use all legal means available to continue fighting the government, including holding a strike vote on several matters where they have been denied due course.

The union had been ordered back to work as a result of Labour Minister Dion Foulkes referring their holiday pay dispute to the Industrial Tribunal on Monday, but junior doctors continued their protests, marching from the Queen’s Staircase to Rawson Square.

Union leaders were wary of the BDU dispute being sent to the Industrial Tribunal, with Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson telling doctors beforehand that the panel had no power to deal with this issue.

This is the latest development in this ongoing standoff between government and BDU, which had been on strike since for several days.

“We have done everything that we were required to do,” Dr Bassett said. “We showed up to meetings when we were asked to. We went to the Industrial Tribunal when we had a scheduled meeting.... Meetings were cancelled. We weren’t given due process to actually argue our case.”

Union claims Morton Salt Bahamas is “union busting”19-03-2019

The Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) released a statement on 18th March 2019 on claims of union busting and breach of industrial agreements by the Inagua-based Morton Salt Company of the Bahamas.

“Over the weekend, 16 and 17 March 2019, the company breeched the industrial agreement in that permanent workers were denied overtime [pay] contrary to the agreement, by scheduling part-time workers to work the overtime hours when permanent workers were willing and able to work the overtime.”

The comments come during a prolonged wage negotiation and discussion of bonus returns.

Government refuses to include trade union movement in discussions on labour issues 05-01-2018

In December 2017, the government of the Bahamas refused to include the country’s trade union centres in the debate on the Commercial Enterprises Bill, which, if passed, would grant significant economic concessions to companies investing in the Bahamas, along with work permits for executives, managers and people with specialised knowledge. The trade unions pointed out that such measures provided many companies with tax advantages but were not geared towards generating employment or improving the situation of the most vulnerable workers. The trade unions urged the government to include them in the discussion of the Bill and to invest in resources that contribute to improving conditions for thousands of workers rather than a privileged few.

Anti-union dismissals at Water and Sewerage Corporation 22-12-2017

On 22 December 2017, the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers’ Union (BUSAWU) denounced the Water and Sewerage Corporation’s attempt to dismiss three trade union members who had been unfairly accused of stealing a fire hydrant from its premises. The trade union called for a rapid resolution of the issue, given that the company had moved to dismiss the workers immediately after an anonymous individual reported the alleged theft, on 22 November 2017, despite the absence of any evidence that an offence had been committed. Dwayne Woods, the union’s president, presented documents and reports testifying to the fact that no hydrant had been removed from the company’s premises. The police is conducting an investigation into the matter.

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 on 24 December 2014 that barred the Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union’s (BHCAWU) from taking any form of industrial action. The union had been in negotiation with the hotel chain for several months over plans to reduce gratuity rates, without reaching agreement. The injunction 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, the union could not even tell its members to withdraw their labour by staying at home. The injunction prevented the BHCAWU “from inciting and/or inducing any employees of the Melia from abstaining from work, or from picketing 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, 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, at a hearing where both sides’ attorneys were present, on 14 January 2015. The appeal cleared the way for them to take industrial action, and workers voted in favour of 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.

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 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.

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 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 was dismissed without justification.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | www.ituc-csi.org | Contact Design by Pixeleyes.be - maps: jVectorMap