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BUT, govt ‘closer than ever’ to reaching agreement 

The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) and government negotiators are “closer than we have ever been” to concluding a new industrial agreement for members of the BUT, according to union president Belinda Wilson.

“I await final agreement on two financial matters,” said Wilson, who had previously threatened industrial action to disrupt the start of the new school year.

That threat came last month after she said both sides had reached an impasse in negotiations for a new agreement.

But in a new voice note sent to members on Thursday evening, Wilson said she had been in constant contact with the lead negotiator.

“I want you to rest assured that the BUT negotiating team, we are crossing all t’s and dotting all i’s to ensure that we have the best industrial agreement for all of our members from Grand Bahama to Inagua,” Wilson said.

In a voice note sent, following the signing of an industrial agreement between the government and the Bahamas Educators, Counselors and Allied Workers Union (BECAWU) on Friday, she told BUT members, “You can rest assured that no other union or workers in the educational sector will get any benefits that the 3,000 members from Grand Bahama to Inagua of the Bahamas Union of Teachers will not be receiving.”

At the signing on Friday, BECAWU President Sandra Major addressed the reason she and her members split from the BUT.

“For two to walk together, they have to agree,” Major said.

“We decided to become the change we wanted because if you continue doing something the same way and getting the same result, you’re considered an idiot. So, in doing the same thing, we realized that we’re not getting anywhere and it was time to do something different.” 

According to Major, the new union has 500 members.

Regarding the new agreement with the government, she said, “We received from them, of course, an increase in salary.

“We got an increment and this is the largest we’ve ever received over a three-year period.

“I was teaching for over 40 years and I have never received an increase this great in my salary in three years.

“We also received the retention bonus. We got an increase in our allowances, we got an increase in our rental assistance, the insurance agent gave a greater benefit to us, and so we are most grateful.”

Negotiations between the government and the BUT are set to conclude on August 18, according to Wilson, who advised members that she will hold a Zoom meeting on that date to advise them of the outcome.