NASSAU, The Bahamas – Members of the National Insurance Board of Directors, the National Insurance Board’s Executive Management Team, and officials of the Public Managers Union, successfully concluded negotiations on a new Industrial Agreement for the Management Staff of the National Insurance Board with the signing of a new five-year Agreement. The signing took place Wednesday (August 24, 2022) in the NIB Boardroom, located in the Sir Clifford Darling Complex.
Officials from both sides classified the negotiations and subsequent Agreement as “amicable” and in the best interests of all parties, including employees, the NIB Board, and the NIB Fund.
Board Chairman, Mr. Philip McKenzie, was the principal signatory on behalf of NIB, while Union President, Freda Cassandra Cartwright-Lewis, was the principal signatory on behalf of the Union and its Members.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for the National Insurance Board, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda, called the successful conclusion to the negotiations a “major feat.” Mr. LaRoda said the Davis Administration was “purposeful” in ensuring that negotiations were concluded in the best interests of all parties.
“This is a major feat considering that the initial process began in June, 2020, amidst challenges and impacts of the global pandemic,” State-Minister LaRoda said. “This Administration acted purposefully in discussions with management and their representatives at the PMU over the last 7 months to bring negotiations to a harmonious conclusion with an agreement that was fair to the hard-working Management staff of the National Insurance Board, and in the best interest of the National Insurance Fund.”
State-Minister LaRoda said the Agreement, which is for five years (January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2024), addressed some 14 financial articles, among other provisions.
“The Agreement addressed issues that were important to the managers including promotions, salary increases, performance evaluations, training and health and safety,” he said.
We re-iterate our pleasure in concluding this Agreement that positively impacts our managers who are key to facilitating the efficient operations of the NIB while protecting the National Insurance Fund. It is important that our internal stakeholders feel valued for the important service they provide for Bahamians throughout the Commonwealth. It is with this mission in mind that we are unified, as we continue to work collectively, reshaping NIB ’s future and fulfilling our vision to be a sustainable and reliable financial support system that consistently delivers on its promises.”
Board Chairman McKenzie said while it was safe to say that neither party got all that either asked for, it was equally safe to say that the interests of the employees of the Board, and the delivery of service to the public was of paramount consideration for both sides.
“The shared objective of during the negotiations then, was to amicably conclude the negotiations to bring focused attention to the mandate of the National Insurance Board,” Mr. McKenzie said.
“In the months leading to today, I was reminded of the saying: ‘To be on the same page, we must be in the same book.’ During meetings and conversations with the leadership of the Management Union, it was clear that we were in the same book. The effort going forward was to get on the same page,” Mr. McKenzie said. “The National Insurance Fund was established as a safety net for Bahamians during their various times of need. The leadership of the Public Managers Union and indeed the Board, are sympathetic to the needs of the public to ensure a more efficient delivery of service to them.”
Public Managers Union President Cartwright-Lewis said the Union was relieved to be at this stage of the process.
“It is important that we recognize [what] the staff brings to any organization, and in particular, our country’s social security system. It is important that we ensure that people are properly compensated for the services that they provide. Make no mistake, we do recognize all of the challenges the Board is confronted with, but we also must be mindful that in order for this to work, there has to be proper partnership as we look forward to improving the services of the National Insurance Board and improving all of the other challenges that the Board has faced, and will face. If we sit to the table and have decent discussions and dialogue, we can achieve whatever it is that’s in the best interest of the National Insurance Board and by extension, the public of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Mrs. Cartwright-Lewis added.