2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Bahamas
|Publisher||International Trade Union Confederation|
|Publication Date||8 June 2011|
|Cite as||International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Bahamas, 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea66226c.html [accessed 11 July 2014]|
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182
There continues to be obstacles to trade union freedom of association which prevents this right from being fully exercised. As was also the case last year, the Government refuses to recognise certain trade unions and continues to harass and threaten trade union members on account of their trade union activities. In some cases, the collective bargaining process has been deliberately hindered, by delay tactics.
TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW
While basic trade union rights are guaranteed, they are subject to many excessive restrictions. Private sector and most public sector workers have the right to form and join trade unions. However, the authorities have real discretionary powers to refuse to register a union, and to deny the required licence unions need to affiliate with any body outside Bahamas. The authorities also interfere with internal trade union matters, as the Registrar must supervise the secret ballot to amend a union constitution. The law stipulates that union representatives should be elected at intervals not exceeding three years.
Furthermore, the right to collective bargaining is recognised, but a union must represent 50% plus one of the employees to be recognised as a bargaining agent. Also, if the employer and the union fail to reach an agreement after 12 months, the employer can apply to have the union's recognition revoked.
In order to call a strike, the Ministry of Labour must approve the strike ballot, and can refer a dispute to the Tribunal if the parties fail to reach a settlement, during which time strike action is prohibited. The authorities also have the right to intervene in strikes to ensure the delivery of basic services and to uphold the "national interest". The law restricts the permissible targets for strikes and appears to prohibit protest and sympathy strikes, and workers who participate in unlawful strikes face excessive sanctions including imprisonment for up to two years.
TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010
Background: In the last elections, held in 2007, the Free National Movement (FNM) secured a majority in Parliament (23 seats), outnumbering the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and consequently, Hubert Ingraham, a member of the FNM became Prime Minister. The next elections are scheduled for no later than, May 2012. The economic downturn has also hit Bahamas as the global recession has caused a reduction in tourist numbers and tourism is the country's main industry.
As a result of the recent financial and economic crisis which has had serious consequences for the country, Bahamas' government announced that it has strengthened social dialogue mechanisms to deal with the effects of the crisis.
Dismissal, harassment and threats common anti-union practices: Harassment and threatening of trade union leaders are commonly used to hinder the work of trade unionists.
Collective bargaining deliberately delayed: In some workplaces, the employers deliberately delay collective bargaining with the union for over one year before making use of available legislation to request that the union's recognition be revoked.
Government intervention in strikes: The right to strike is not exercised freely as the government sometimes intervenes to stop a strike and has the legal right to do so.