BEC burdened by group medical, pension plans

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BEC Expose’ – More Revelations by the Freeport News

Consumers packed on the line of BEC at the MALL AT MARATHON BRANCH. NASSAU GUARDIAN FILE PHOTO.

By Fred Sturrup
FN General Manager/Managing Editor

While in other segments of the workforce, employees share the cost for medical and pension plans with respective employers, Bahamas Electricity Corporation staffers enjoy the luxury of all payments being covered.

For the 700 plus workers the cost for the two plans are astronomical and said to factor heavily in the corporation’s inability to make a profit, thus resulting in a dependency of subsidy by the government.

Here are the clauses from the industrial agreement between BEC and the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union that refer to the group medical plan and life benefits:

27.1 “The Corporation shall continue to maintain a Group Medical and Life Insurance Benefits Plan and until a National Health Insurance Plan is implemented by the Government of The Bahamas.”

27.2 “On the implementation of National Health Insurance Plan, the Plan (Group Medical) maintained by the Corporation shall cease within six months of such implementation of the national Health Insurance Plan.

27.3 “Should a National Health Insurance Plan not be commenced by July 26, 2016, then the Corporation and the Union agree that all employees shall contribute 30% of the cost above the insurance cap agreed for the Plan (Group Medical), and the Corporation shall pay the balance 70% of such agreed cost cap of the Plan.

27.4 “The Corporation and the Union further agree to discuss any supplemental insurance coverage once a National Health Insurance Plan is implemented.

27.5 “ The Corporation shall consult with the Union on any additional proposed changes to the Plan.

27.6 “While the Plan remains in existence, coverage will continue to be extended to retirees at the retirees’ sole option and expense. No coverage can be extended on cessation of the Plan (Group Medical).

Maintaining such costs has been burdensome to the corporation, Executive Chairman Leslie Miller contends, and he has been adamant about the employees sharing some cost to their medical insurance and pension plans.

However the agreement means that any contribution by BEC employees will not start until possibly 2016.

The breakdown on overtime pay sheds light also on another astronomical cost being born by the corporation.

Under the industrial agreement, overtime pay from normal finishing time to midnight on Monday through Friday, is time and a half and double time after midnight; on Saturday, double time; and on Sunday, double time until midnight and double time and a quarter thereafter until normal starting time on Monday.

Clause 21.2 of the industrial agreement, details work on public holidays:

“All Day Employees required to work on a Declared Public Holiday shall be entitled to payment at the rate of double time, and (double time and a half for Christmas, New Year’s Day, Good Friday and Randol Fawkes Labour Day) for hours worked until midnight on the Declared Public Holidays and thereafter at the rate of double time and a quarter and (double time and three fourths for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Good Friday and Randol Fawkes Labour Day) until normal starting time on the next day.”

The overtime pay of BEC employees has been at the crux of the issue Miller has had with the Union. He has his share of supporters.

In Grand Bahama, noted businessman Churchill Tener-Knowles complimented The Freeport News following part one of this BEC Expose’ series and gave credit to Miller.

“Excellent piece on BEC. I have personally told Leslie Miller that he is doing good work on behalf of the Bahamian people.”

There are quite a few instances of BEC employees making more money in overtime than their respective annual salaries. In some cases employees, between January and September 2014, made upwards of $10,000 more overtime than their base annual salaries. A maintenance mechanic, whose base salary is $39,697.00 annually, took home $52,040.39 as of September 14, 2014. On April of 2014, the employee’s overtime pay was $14,060.15.

Today, we publish a list of job position base salaries and the respective overtime amounts- paid up to September 14 of 2014: