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NTCUB says good riddance to unions that broke away 

National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) Acting President Sherry Benjamin said yesterday the congress is better off without the affiliates that left to form the Bahamas National Alliance Trade Union Congress (BNATUC).

“We will march on and we will remain strong,” Benjamin said.

“And so, the unions that are left, we are resolved in our minds to rebuild the congress and to ensure that the congress is doing what it’s supposed to do and that is to defend the rights of workers in this country.

“And so, them leaving is almost like a blessing for us because we have been … trying to have meetings and every time the former president or the acting president called a meeting, it was very toxic or disruptive and we were unable to get anything done if they showed up.

“And for the most part, they never showed up. We called executive board meetings and their few executives would not show up to the executive board meetings.

“So, basically, from September of 2019 to now, they have been holding the congress hostage, and I think this is probably a breath of fresh air that they have gone, so that we can move on and start to rebuild this congress and do things that we are supposed to do and focus on things like the increase in minimum wage and all of the other litany of labor issues that we have in this country.”

The BNATUC, announced on Sunday, includes six unions and two associations: the Airport Airline and Allied Workers Union (AAAWU); the Bahamas Financial Services Union (BFSU); the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU); the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU); the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union (BTCU); the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT); the Police Staff Association; and the Correctional Officers Staff Association.

Benjamin said of the affiliates that left the NCTUB, only the BHCAWU notified the NCTUB of its departure from the congress.

“We have only received a letter from one union pulling out and that [was] the hotel union,” she said.

“All of those other unions have not relinquished their membership in the congress as yet. So, they are still technically affiliates of the congress.”

The NCTUB’s remaining affiliates include: the Bahamas Musicians and Entertainers Union; the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU); the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU); the Union of Public Officers (UPO); the Bahamas Commercial Stores, Supermarkets and Warehouse Workers Union; the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB); the Union of Central Bankers; and the Bahamas Airline Pilots Association.

BUT President Belinda Wilson announced on Sunday that she is president of the BNATUC.

The congress joins two previously existing umbrella unions in The Bahamas – the NCTUB and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Prior to the September 2021 general election, which the Progressive Liberal Party won in a landslide victory, the party signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NCTU and TUC pledging to address longstanding issues.

At the time, a statement from affiliates of the NCTUB, including the BUT, BPSU, BFSU, AAAWU and BHCAWU, lambasted the MOU, calling it disingenuous and claiming it was not done with the agreement of the majority of the umbrella union’s affiliates.