NASSAU, The Bahamas – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper said that industrial action is not in the best interest of the tourism industry, which is on the rebound.
He was responding to industrial action taken on Monday, July 18, 2022, by members of the Bahamas Public Services Union employed by the Airport Authority.
He lamented the fact that the prime minister has met on several occasions with the union president but yet it has staged industrial action.
“It is most unfortunate that they have taken these actions. We do not believe that they are in the interest of tourism. We are making a significant rebound in tourism and this could cause somewhat of a setback, and it is regrettable that they would jeopardize interests of the industry,” the deputy prime minister said.
He then sounded a warning to the union, that the government would not be strong-armed by its movement.
“We are not going to take this lying down. We are going to employ all that’s available to us under the law to ensure…that our traveling public is not adversely impacted,” he said.
The industrial action forced the deputy prime minister to take a tour of the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) to view operations there, and determine whether the industrial action would have any impact on the country’s gateway. He was accompanied by Senator the Hon. Randy Rolle, Global Relations Consultant, Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation (MOTIA).
He noted that there were a number of employees who called in sick, but he was unable to confirm a specific number.
Meanwhile, operations will continue with the support of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force “so we can continue service to the public,” the deputy prime minister said.
He observed however, “Suffice it to say, this is a regrettable situation. We’ve been in office nine months; we’ve looked at the agreement in principle that was left in place by the former administration that has been going on. There was no finalizing agreement. “We thought that we were making significant progress over the past nine months. We asked for compromise, we asked for patience on behalf of the Bahamian people.”
According to the deputy prime minister, “The action today we think is a strong-arm tactic and we are going to do what’s best for the Bahamian people. We are not going to allow the interests of a few to trump the interests of the wider Bahamian community.…”
He pledged that negotiations will continue with the union in “good faith and in the best interest of the Bahamian people.”