COB and UTEB Sign Agreement to Benefit College Faculty

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COB Council Secretary Michael Stevenson, President of COB Rodney Smith, Chairman of COB Council Alfred Sears, President of UTEB Mark Humes.
COB Council Secretary Michael Stevenson, President of COB Rodney Smith, Chairman of COB Council Alfred Sears, President of UTEB Mark Humes.

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Some 225 faculty members at the College of the Bahamas (COB) will benefit from an industrial agreement signed today between the COB and the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB).

The agreement which runs from 2012 to 2017 includes the following:

· Compassionate leave not only for spouses but also for life partners;

· Increase in the retirement age from 65 to 70 upon the college attaining university status;

· Increased funding for professional development from $110,000 to

$225,000, which is an increase of $115,000;

· New salary emoluments package which includes:

* $3500 lump sum at signing
* Automatic increment increases ranging from $100 to $225 effective July 2016
* A $1600 increase in salaries effective July 2016; and
* An increase in medical insurance coverage from 60/40 to 80/20 at signing.

College Council Chairman Alfred Sears described the 4th agreement between COB and UTEB as a “great” day for celebrating the “meeting of the minds.”

He said, “Since the expiration of the last agreement in 2012, both parties saw the wisdom this time in persevering to reach a consensus through negotiating. Patience paid off in the end. I thank the union for not resorting to industrial action.
“I believe that the college and the faculty union have to find ways to improve relations with each other and break free of the stranglehold of historical mistrust in order to forge a genuine spirit of partnership.”

He noted that the transition period from college to university status demands harmonious work between staff, faculty and students to forge a greater sense of a common ethos.

Mr. Sears commended the “distinguished” faculty, who have prepared generations of students who have continued to pursue graduate and professional studies in universities in the region, North America, Europe, China and Africa.

“We have a faculty who since 1974 have demonstrated excellence in teaching. As we move to the University of The Bahamas we will incentivize and encourage with UTEB to develop the same kind of excellence in the areas of research and advisory services.”

The chairman indicated that when the new University of The Bahamas Act is passed, all of the agreements including those signed today between COB and UTEB will remain current and enforceable.

“Soon after the college makes the transition there will be the need for both parties to attempt to renegotiate some of the terms of the agreement in an effort to ensure that the terms are consistent with best practices in a university setting,” he added.

UTEB President Mark Humes described the signing as an “awesome” undertaking.

He said while the agreement is not exactly what faculty members wanted, it is definitely something that for the most part they can live with.

“During these negotiations, it is fortunate that we did not have to give up any of the current benefits that we presently enjoy and it is even more fortunate that we were able to secure some additional benefits for our membership,” said Mr. Humes.

The bargaining team for COB included Renee Mayers, Wendy Poitier-Albury, Denise Wilson, Keith Archer and Leon Griffin.

The bargaining team for UTEB comprised Mark Humes, Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, Janet Donnelly, Margo Blackwell, Shananda Hinsey-Miller, Veronica Toppin, Anastasia Forbes, Catherine Archer and Bridget Rolle-Hogg.

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