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2003-02-04 00:54:35

Trade Unions Addicted To "Prejudicial" Operations

Union leader slams system

"Backward" unions are undermining the economy of The Bahamas, says union leader Huedley Moss.

The president of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) said Sunday that the "Rip Van Winkle" style under which unions operate in The Bahamas must end with or without the cooperation of the president of Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, Pat Bain.

According to Mr. Moss, competitors have recognized the weaknesses of The Bahamas, and like any prudent businesspeople, are capitalizing on it.

"This is why our economy is under siege and it is unfortunate that union leaders who are expected to know better simply refused to acknowledge to it. Remember, if we do not recognize our weaknesses and threats, our competitors certainly will and to our detriment," he said.

The BUSAWU president said that in order to address its macro-concerns, the country it must revise its tax structure so that it will no longer be "inequitable, regressive, unfair and burdensome to the lower class citizens of the country."

"We can best do this by eliminating tariffs and customs duties. This is a must since it affects the mentioned persons more than any sector of persons in our society. Secondly, we must implement a fairer form of taxation as a matter of urgency. I suggest the government seriously consider implementing income as a matter of urgency," he said.

Mr. Moss said the 15 per cent gratuity imposed in some hotels is a disincentive for productivity and encourages poor sattitudes in the workplace. He said that similarly, it has unnecessarily inflated the price of a vacation experience for tourists.

"Compulsory gratuity is a direct contradiction to productivity and is a shameful form of protectionism that will continue to be a noose around the necks of all earnest and hardworking Bahamians."

The BUSAWU president said that since The Bahamas must survive in a competitive tourism industry, all workers must make a contribution to the country by being more productive and efficient. He said the BHCAWU must realize that compulsory gratuity is absolutely "taboo."

When the gratuity is imposed, Mr. Moss noted that hotel operators must increase the fixed salary and wage of workers who are affected by the loss compulsory gratuity. He said that such a move would be more beneficial for hotel workers as they will unquestionably receive an immediate salary and wage increase, in addition to the voluntary gratuity received from guests and patrons.

"Nevertheless, what I think is shameful is that that the BHCAWU has the most inequitable dues structure in place. It is criminal to charge $10 per week for union dues, whether the members work one hour or one week. What is also hypocritical is these members receive some of the smallest benefits from their union. Obviously, this includes the inadequate pension the BHCAWU has in place for its members," said Mr. Moss.

By Tamara McKenzie, The Nassau Guardian 

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