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Was Government Too Generous To ZNS Employees?

Employees at the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas received large payouts from the government upon their dismissals, with one manager receiving a check for nearly $122,000 plus a pension of $32,438.39 per year for life.

National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest tabled the list of compensation packages to BCB employee in the House of Assembly on Thursday before departing for China with Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham a day later.

The manager with the largest total payout of $121,990.54 had 40 years of service and made $54,063.99 per year.

Members of the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU) received the largest payouts. These packages ranged from what that manager received on the high end of the list, to $21,056,54 to a manager who had only one year of service with the BCB at a salary of $45,000.

According to the document, workers who had not reached retirement age also would receive a refund of their pension contributions.

Members of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU), who had lower, salaries than the managers, received smaller packages.

One BCPOU member, who had served for 28 years, received a check for $51,755.42 and refund of pension contributions. The employee was receiving a salary of $38,192.27. The lowest payout to a BCPOU member was $5,292.15 to an employee who had only served at the corporation for four years.

There, are 74 people on the list: 44 members of the BCPOU and 30 members of the BCPMU.

The government offered a ‘sweetener’ to those who accepted the voluntary separation packages. They received an extra three to four months pay in addition, to what was owed to them under the industrial agreement signed between the BCB board, and the BCPOU and BCPMU.

According to the list, 15 BCPOU members and 16 BCPMU members took the voluntary separation packages. Both unions, however, argued that what was offered to departing members by the BCB board was unfair, as some government workers in the past have received ‘sweeteners’ of 12 to 24 months pay in addition to what was legally owed.

On average, BCPMU members received separation checks valued at $64,500. This would be in addition to either full pensions or refunds of their pension contributions. BCPOU members received separation checks of $25,184 on average, in addition to either full pensions or refunds of their pension contributions.

Only two BCB employees received checks in excess of $100,000. In addition to the manager mentioned, another BCPMU member received a payout of $105,251.28 and a pension of $33,600 per year. That manager, had served for 33 years and earned an annual salary of $56,000.

Five managers were paid more than $90,000 at separation. They received full pensions in excess of $30,000 per year.

Many of the terminated public servants also received generous payouts for accrued vacation time.

The manager who served 40 years at ZNS and received the largest individual payout on the list also received the largest vacation pay check ($10,050.36).

On average managers received $5,463 in vacation pay. BCPOU members received vacation checks amounting to $2,747 on average.

The government has reduced the staff level at the corporation. This is a part of the effort to transition ZNS to public service broadcasting.

The two unions lost their battle to have the government increase the ‘sweetener’ offered to departing staff. The government described the offers as reasonable.

During a tour of the Albany development last week, Ingraham said they went above what was necessary in providing packages to BCB employees.

“We’ve paid on top of that. Additionally we’ll pay for health insurance for all the disengaged workers for the next 12 months. We would have paid $700,000 more than we were legally or contractly obliged to pay in respect of 80 persons and I really believe that the ingratitude was not a good thing for people to have,” he said.

Deputy News Editor

Was the government too generous with the ZNS employees?  Please comment below.

Posted in Business

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