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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Doctors’ strike ruled unlawful21-10-2019

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

Justice Ian Winder, in a written ruling, ordered that the union, its officers, servants and agents are now restrained from “organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. or procuring its members to 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
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 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. ” going forward.

The judge said the BDU “contravened” Section 76 of the Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act (IRA) when it continued to 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
despite its obligation to discontinue once Labour Minister Dion Foulkes had referred the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal because the 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
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 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
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 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. against the government and ordered to return to work after an injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. granted on 27th August by Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder.

According to Attorney General Carl Bethel, the injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. further ordered that BDU be restrained from contravening Sections 76, 77, and 83 of the Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act. It was also ordered that an ‘inter parties’ hearing be heard on 28th August before Justice Winder.

The injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. 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 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
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 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
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 union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. 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 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.

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.

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.

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