Nassau, The Bahamas – The Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and the Bahamas Utilities and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU ) held a joint press conference on Monday, October 8, at the Corporation’s offices to announce “a significant milestone” achieved in relation to contracted employees.
The corporation and the union signed an agreement, to make permanent more than 90 contract employees who have been employed with the corporation for more than one year. Additionally, the corporation has secured the union’s agreement that these newly engaged members of the bargaining unit will not be a part of the existing defined benefit pension plan which has an unfunded liability of over $70 million. Instead a contributory pension plan will be established over the next year and these and other employees in the bargaining unit after January 1, 2013, will be eligible for this new plan. This plan will also be ‘portable’ so that participating employees will be able to ‘take’ their benefits with them if they separate from the corporation in the future, subject to the conditions of the plan.
WSC chairman Mr. Bradley Roberts said that “in early March of this year, industrial action ensued at the corporation as a result of an impasse between management and the BUSAWU regarding the status of contract employees. Some of these employees had been employed for up to seven years under consecutive contracts. This failure to reach an agreement resulted in a court action being filed by the corporation in order to resolve the matter. However, the government has been able to reach a resolution to the benefit of all parties and to avoid a protracted court case and associated costs.”
“The resolution of this matter now means that our brothers and sisters now have a more stable employment status, complete with the benefits enjoyed by members of the bargaining unit, who do the same work that contract employees have been competently carrying out over the years. The agreement Mr. Roberts said, also ensures that this situation does not occur in the future by limiting a contract employment period to one year. If a contract employee’s service is still required following one year that employee will be made permanent if they are at the corporation one day beyond the agreed one year period.”
This agreement is in keeping with the government’s commitment to resolve this matter throughout the Public Service and to provide meaningful, productive and stable employment for our Bahamian brothers and sisters. It also begins the government’s action plan to address the challenge it faces with relative pension liabilities that not only exist at the corporation but at other government agencies as well.