Wednesday, September 15, 2021
By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Allied Workers Union yesterday said it has initiated legal action against the Government for filling senior Immigration posts with persons from outside the civil service.
Sloane Smith, the union’s executive vice-president, told Tribune Business: “The case that was filed on September 10 deals with how the Government was allowed to fill the positions of director of immigration and assistant director, as well as senior immigration officer, with people outside of the civil service.
“The director now is a retired police officer, and the one who was hired as a senior immigration officer, he is a retired prison officer. All we are saying is that if you are going to hire these people, hire them in accordance with the constitution that tells you how an immigration officer is to be hired by law, and that is by the Governor General with advice from the Public Service Commission.”
Mr Smith complained that the senior hires were made to the “exclusion” of other Immigration employees, while those with the relevant experience were not even considered. “This just highlights how the Government has failed to meet us and talk with the unions,” he added.
Mr Smith said a separate action launched by the union involved an alleged breach of contract due to the failure to pay 132 officers an increased uniform allowance with effect from January 1, 2018.
He added: “In 2018 we signed a contract with the Government that included that uniform allowance going from $200 to $250 with effect from January 1, 2018.”
The union is alleging that the Government has failed to pay this uniform allowance increase. The court action on September 6 is asking the Government to follow through on their agreement and pay Customs officers the extra $50 per year for uniforms going back almost four years.
Dismissing suggestions that the timing was designed to put pressure on the Government ahead of tomorrow’s general election, Mr Smith said: “We put a notice to the Government from June and they didn’t respond. This could have been a matter that could have been resolved, but they didn’t so now I have to file a court action to have the matter resolved.”
Mr Smith said both cases are making their way through the court system and, regardless of what happens on September 16, they will still need to be addressed.