Negotiations are set to begin for the first ever industrial agreement between the government and EI affiliate the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT).
Lead government negotiator, Keith Archer, has presented the leader of the BUT, Ida Poitier, with a proposal for negotiations. However, the government proposal only includes teaching staff – non-teachers (including guidance counsellors) will require a separate, supplemental agreement, possibly to be negotiated at the same time. "With respect to the inclusion of the guidance counsellors in the bargaining unit that we are proposing, we have taken a position that this agreement is for teachers, hence their (the non-teachers) exclusion," Mr. Archer said. He noted that government recognized the "union representation" of non-teachers and is willing to negotiate a second, separate agreement for them. Ms. Poitier responded with an emphatic statement of the union’s position on the matter. She pointed out that the union would be bargaining for teachers, non-administrative staff and guidance counsellors. "We can say here and now that we expect to negotiate on behalf of all of the members of our bargaining team without exception," Ms. Poitier said. On Tuesday, both sides declined to say specifically what salary increases teachers can expect. Mr. Archer and Ms. Poitier agreed that they looked forward to swift and fruitful negotiations. Members of the BUT will meet to discuss the Industrial Agreement on 28th February.