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[Bahamas] Minister urges ATC union to return to negotions

Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers’ Union
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[Bahamas] Minister urges ATC union to return to negotions

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Aug 25, 2015

http://www.thenassauguardian.com/bahama ... gotiations

[Bahamas] Minister urges air traffic union to return to negotiations
GEOFFREY BROWN Guardian Business Reporter
Aug 24, 2015

Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin yesterday stated that the Ministry of Labour, Department of Civil Aviation (CAD) and the Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers Union (BATCU) will “expeditiously” resume negotiations concerning overtime pay in the coming days in the wake of an air traffic control walkout that caused a Grand Bahama-bound flight to be diverted to New Providence.

On Tuesday, Sunwing Airlines diverted a flight carrying 186 passengers from Grand Bahama to Nassau after air traffic controllers working at the Grand Bahama International Airport (GBIA) walked off the job over a dispute related to overtime pay.

Addressing the matter, Hanna-Martin said that she understands and respects the union’s obligation to pursue the interests of the membership; she urged the union to work with government agencies to resolve the dispute within the procedures available under the law, suggesting that actions similar to the walkout did not demonstrate negotiating in “good faith”.

“We can do this expeditiously. The parties are sitting around the table and I’m urging them to sit down and get to a resolution. I think they’re due to go back in the next few days.

“They are in the middle of ongoing discussions and certainly it seems to me that when you’re doing that in good faith, you don’t take the kind of action that we have been seeing,” stated Hanna-Martin.

Having already facilitated at least two meetings between the BATCU and the Ministry of Labour, Hanna-Martin hoped a solution could be reached in short order.

The dispute, according to Hanna-Martin, arose after the government assumed responsibility for traffic control services in Freeport roughly two years ago. At that time, Hanna-Martin asserted that air traffic officers took time off in lieu of overtime pay, refuting the notion that the government was overworking its air traffic officers. Furthermore, Hanna-Martin said that the BATCU’s claims of no compensation for overtime were “not quite reflective of the facts”.

“Where there is a possible impasse is the interpretation of how overtime is compensated for essential service officers. That has been the sticking issue. If they’re not able to agree at that level, it can always be referred to the Industrial Tribunal for clarification, but the union has taken the position despite the process that they’re not going to work overtime and so it has led to these situations,” she said.

Air traffic controllers at the time apparently walked out because the incoming Sunwing flight’s expected arrival fell after the 10 p.m. services deadline for that shift. All affected passengers were given accommodations in New Providence and flown to Grand Bahama the following day – all at Sunwing’s expense.

Air traffic controllers in Exuma and Eleuthera have previously raised similar concerns over overtime pay.

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