Labour and Social Development Ministers address concerns of Department of Social Development staff

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Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour Development the Hon Loretta Butler-Turner (centre) held a press conference on Friday to discuss the results of meetings both she and Minister of Labour and Social Development the Hon Dion Foulkes had with the Department of Social Services staff in Grand Bahama and New Providence. Pictured at the press conference from left: Deputy Director, Department of Social Services, Mavis Darling-Hill; Director, Department of Social Services, Melanie Zonicle; Mrs Butler-Turner; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Development, Barbara Burrows and Undersecretary, Carl Brennen.

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner explained during a press conference, Friday, May 13, the results of meetings with the Department of Social Services staff with both herself and Minister of Labour and Social Development Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes.

They travelled to Grand Bahama, Thursday, May 5, 2011 to hold meetings with staff there and sat down with staff in New Providence, Thursday, May 12, 2011, Mrs Butler-Turner said.

“At both meetings, the staff was allowed to state concerns after which Minister Foulkes and I shared the actions that are being taken to address them.”

Mrs Butler-Turner said the major concerns of the staff are accommodations, heavy caseloads, the need for replacements for staff who have either retired or otherwise left the service, the career path and regularisation of work programme participants.

She added, “I am pleased to report that a section of the Department of Social Services in Grand Bahama will relocate on Monday, May 16, 2011, to accommodations in the National Insurance Building. This move will relieve some of the overcrowding in the Freeport Office.”

Mrs Butler-Turner also noted that a number of human resources matters pertaining to both New Providence and Grand Bahama are currently before the Department of Public Service.

“These are some of the measures I can share at this time.”

Giving some background on the issue she said, “On Friday, April 15, 2011, I headed a team from the ministry that met with Mr John Pinder, president of The Bahamas Public Services Union, and other executives of the union along with Department of Social Services shop stewards from New Providence and Grand Bahama,

“At that meeting, a number of issues including the major issues previously indicated were addressed that the union was informed of the actions already taken and those in train to address these issues.

“Despite this meeting which I felt was a cordial one, some employees of the department engaged in demonstrations and industrial action.”

Mrs Butler-Turner said the reality is that there is not an abundance of individuals who are qualified to be social workers, but the ministry is always seeking to find persons with the needed certifications to help alleviate the caseload.

She added that the government does not intend to grow the work programme any further but to try and assimilate as many of those current individuals in the programme into the formal sector.

“We have had all of the files of the persons who are on the work programme along with their tenure and also with the recommendations that they be considered,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.

“I wish to reassure the staff and the public that the government values the work of employees of the department of social services and rehabilitative welfare services and takes seriously the concerns expressed, and our efforts to address these are continuing,” she said.

  • WONDERFUL, the staff of Social services will get some relief.

    Wonder when any government will bring relief to the thousands of contractual/part-time workers, that have been working in other government ministries for over five, ten, fifteen years with no benefits. This is disgusting and the bosses are taking advantage.

    Just look at the staff of BTVI, where the manager ran most all the permanent and pensionable workers (with the help of her BIG RED BUDDY at ministry of education), so that she could dictate and intimidate all contractual workers employed.

    When will the government stop the abuse of Bahamians like this. Man just clean up social services Min Butler and Min. Bannister do your job with BTVI. This is just not right, clean up the curruption and stench, and STOP THAT ONE MAN GANG!!!