Generally, I am a strong supporter of unions. They are good for a country but there are times when they are unreasonable and make unreasonable demands of employers.
For instance, I am concerned about demands that the BTC unions and others are making regarding the privatisation of the company by the government. Based on all that has been said and in print on this issue, I am left to conclude that the BTC unions and the ones that support them are only interested in themselves and their members, but not our nation and Bahamians.
The BTC unions only seem to be about their narrow and singular interest, as opposed to what they have been saying – that they are concerned about Bahamians owning BTC. What I have heard from them, is that it is all about them at a time when things are tough in this country for a lot of people. Their members have jobs and will have them for at least three years.
They seem to really be interested in their jobs and separation packages.
The unions have stated that those employees who were invited to voluntarily separate and receive packages should receive packages more generous than the government gave them in 1999. Prime Minister Ingraham has indicated that the government cannot afford the 1999 packages today.
In fact, the Prime Minister has indicated that the 1999 packages were too generous in the fIrst instance.
Secondly, they appear to be interested in one other thing – getting more than three years guaranteed employment for those employees who do not voluntarily separate. But this too, Prime Minister Ingraham has said is just not feasible or possible.
In fact, Prime Minister Ingraham has already indicated that Cable & Wireless sought redundancies to the tune of 300 employees immediately, so that the company can have a good chance of being profitable and compete with new entries into the martet.
Prime Minister Ingraham also spoke to this issue, indicating that the government did not intend to give a three-year exclusivity period on cellular, but it ended up doing so as an offset – ensuring that no jobs are lost for the same period.
The BTC unions are about themselves and no one else. They are not truly concerned about you and me, whether we own BTC or not – it is all about them.