Union looking for a social agreement with the BTVI

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

[email protected]

AFTER being recognized as the bargaining agent for the Technical and Vocational Institute of the Bahamas, the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas looks forward to the upcoming signing of an industry agreement with the institution.

UTEB President Daniel Thompson said it ended an 18-month battle to be recognized as the bargaining agent for BTVI staff.

“We got the certificate of determination and recognition,” said Mr. Thompson. “This is what we have been fighting for for 18 months. Now the real battle begins. The system is what we are fighting against.

So now start to focus on the hard road ahead in terms of cooperation with BTVI. We hope they will be able to be very cooperative and we can sit down as educators and discuss our differences in the meeting room.

“We hope that we don’t have to go and file a dispute, but unfortunately that sometimes happens. This is historic for the UTEB. This is the first time that UTEB has graduated from the University of the Bahamas. The advisers are enthusiastic and delighted because it is historic. We will now transfer our members from Egypt to the Red Sea and to the Promised Land by the grace of God.

The UTEB president said that pending the signing of an agreement, the union should be involved in employment issues at BTVI.

“The certificate is dated June 28, 2021,” he said. “This date is very important because it is now our official moment of recognition. Everything they have done from this period must involve the UTEB. While we are negotiating our industrial agreement, they (BTVI) must involve the UTEB in issues relating to working conditions.

“I met with my members this morning to reiterate the implications of the Certificate of Determination. I will now write a letter to send to the BTVI inviting them to dialogue with us in our new statute. The semester opens in a few weeks and we must therefore open a dialogue with them as soon as possible.

“Now we have the power to file disputes and take industrial action. We must now negotiate and agree on an industrial agreement. This negotiation process will likely take about six to seven months. We must first get them to the table. We worked on a draft industrial agreement. It’s not over yet. We can make them a proposal. It’s a back-and-forth process and it can take a few months.

Mr Thompson said his union was looking to tackle issues such as placing staff on short-term contracts.

“They’re trying to put all of their teachers on a lot of short-term contracts,” he said. “Management can have three- and four-year contracts, but professors must have annual contracts. All of this we want to change. It is an educational institution and educators are less secure than the administrator.

” It is unfair. It is the faculty which should have permanence and security. The faculty should have tenure, while the administrators have contracts of about four years ahead. This is what an educational institution does.


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