[Bahamas] ATC Union Signs Agreement With Government

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[Bahamas] ATC Union Signs Agreement With Government

Unread post by bimjim » Sat May 28, 2016

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2016/may ... trial-agr/

[Bahamas] Air Traffic Controllers Union Signs Industrial Agreement With Government
NICO SCAVELLA Tribune Staff Reporter
Friday, May 27, 2016

BAHAMAS Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU) President Lashan Gray has expressed "relief" over finally signing an industrial agreement with the government, calling it a "momentous occasion" that it signifies the "beginning" of air traffic controllers moving "closer towards industry-related standards".

On Friday at the Ministry of the Public Service, Mrs Gray said the conclusion of negotiations over the industrial agreement, which she said runs from March, 2013, to the end of May, 2017, marks the end of what she called "a very tedious and rigorous process" and will now allow both parties to "move forward in a manner that improves the overall air traffic system".

Mrs Gray also said that while the negotiation process was a little too long for her liking - 16 months - she is satisfied that the "key issues" the union previously had to deal with has been addressed and that the union is looking forward to a "harmonious" relationship with the Department of Civil Aviation (CAD).

According to officials, the previous industrial agreement with BATCU expired in 2008. Since then, Mrs Gray said, there have been repeated attempts at negotiating a new industrial agreement, but to no avail. Since then, there have been reported clashes between CAD and BATCU, stemming from issues like the non-payments of overtime and/or holiday pay and other matters.

On Friday, officials said the new industrial agreement includes a lump sum payment equivalent to one increment, a salary increase equivalent to two increments; a rating allowance based on certification for approach control, tower, flight services as well as aerodrome officers in the Family Islands; training allowance; increased wages for new recruits, growing from $14,650 to $18,000 a year; and a new medical insurance scheme with an 80-20 employer to employee contribution percentage.

When asked if she felt those tenets of the industrial agreement are sufficient to quell most, if not all, of the union's previous concerns and issues, Mrs Gray said: "I'm satisfied that the key issues were addressed within the agreement. However right now moving forward, we must ensure that the agreement is adhered to.

"So although the agreement is the initial step in addressing those things which were outstanding and which needed to be addressed in terms of our concerns, we must ensure that the agreement is able to be monitored and enforced."

When questioned if she felt Friday's signing would lead to better relations with CAD, Mrs Gray said: "We can't guarantee what the future will bring; however it is my hope, and I'm maintaining faith, that we will have a harmonious relationship moving forward, where it will be in the interest of both parties, the union as well as management, to carry out the agreement which we have signed today.

"So as long as that happens, I think we're able to move forward in a manner that improves the overall air traffic system, and that's my overall focus."

She added: "Even though it's been a long time overdue and there has been attempts at negotiating since 2008, I can speak to my process, which still in my opinion was long -16 months - however I'm pleased that the overall process has been completed."

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Shane Gibson said he is "overjoyed" at the conclusion of what he said was "perhaps the toughest set of negotiations" the Christie administration has had to enter into since taking office in 2012.

"This was a long, drawn out process," he added. "Obviously, like in any other set of negotiations, neither side got exactly what they wanted, and I think a compromise was finally reached with something that both sides could live with.

He added: "This was a very interesting one for us. But suffice it to say, I'm really overjoyed that we've finally reached this point."

Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin, also present at Friday's signing, heralded the conclusion of negotiations as a "new era" in the country's aviation sector.

"I feel very good today," she said. "I think that this is an important paradigm shift for the air navigation services in our country. It's beginning to place them in the correct perception in our economy and in our national life."

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