Statement regarding negotiations between the government and the B.P.S.U

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The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has been made aware of a number of misleading voice notes being circulated, purporting to reflect a meeting held at the Ministry of Finance on Thursday, August 15, 2019 between the MoF, The Public Treasury Department, The Ministry of Public Service (MPS) and the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU).

In light of this misinformation, the MoF would like to provide factual information to the general public regarding discussions between the Government and the BPSU. The MoF can confirm that a meeting was convened at the Ministry of Finance following an earlier meeting between the Prime Minister and the BPSU, during which the matter was
referred to the MoF. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Government’s ability to finance a payment to public officers for back to school preparations. The Government sought to negotiate a good faith resolution which would be presented to Cabinet for approval.

The Union proposed a lump sum payment of $1,200 for the benefit of public officers. The total value of payments was estimated by the Government at approximately $20 million. The BPSU was advised that any proposal emerging from the meeting would be subject to the
final approval of the Cabinet and availability of financial resources to accomplish it in the time frame being sought. MoF could not authorize or make payment without exploring the options and challenges such a payment would present, and before receiving Cabinet approval. Considering the Government’s cash flow needs, the MoF offered to recommend to Cabinet, splitting the payment into two lump sums of $600 each, in August and December, 2019. The Union refused to consider the offer, indicating $1,200 was already a concession. The BPSU was advised that due to the scale of the funding requirements, meeting an end of month demand would be a challenge in all instances.

While it is true that the BPSU was not encouraged by the recommended action, it was made clear at the end of the meeting that the Minister would present the results of the meeting and the positions taken by both negotiating sides at the earliest meeting of Cabinet for a decision: The expected date was Tuesday, August 20, 2019. The Government stands by its commitment to work with BPSU towards a satisfactory long term agreement. Government representatives included the Minister of Finance and the Deputy Financial Secretary responsible for operations; the Treasury, represented by the Deputy Treasurer; the Ministry of Public Service, represented by the Permanent Secretary, the Financial Officer and a Human Resources Officer. The BPSU was represented by its President, Executive Vice President, Assistant Secretary General and Chief Shop Stewart.

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