The Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) Northern Region hosted its First Youth Forum on Wednesday, March 14 – at the BPSU Hall – under the theme ‘Empowering Our Young Workers with Knowledge today for a Stronger Tomorrow.’
Justin Palacious Co-Chair of the Youth Arm of the BPSU spoke to this daily during the forum. He stated that they wanted to empower young workers and get them ready for the workforce.
“Basically what we’re doing is introducing them to labour laws and other laws that apply to them as workers, namely the industrial relations act, the labour act as well as we’re touching on common law,” he said.
Helen Jones, Vice President of the Tribunal Court spoke on the Labour Act. Other speakers included O’Neal Thurston, Joyce Waldron, Dr. Nicholas Saint and Dwayne Swann.
Palacious noted the importance of the forum. He stated that most of the problems young employees face, is not that they do not know labour laws, but that they fear expressing such knowledge to their employers.
“Young workers need to know their rights; they need to know they should not be afraid to stand up for themselves. They need to know when the employment act comes into play and when the agreement comes into play,” he said.
He added that young employees should also know that their employers cannot set unfair standards in their agreements.
Palacious added that the forum was also created to encourage young people in the workforce.
BPSU President Kimsley Ferguson also spoke to this daily and expressed how exciting it was to see so many young people embracing the forum.
He said that the forum was to help attendees have the hope and aspire to one day be leaders whether it be in the BPSU or in other sectors.
“This particular forum today suggests that we are empowering young people today with knowledge for a stronger tomorrow, and so we are basing that around succession planning is alive and well in The Bahamas Public Services Union and the fact that we are cognizant that we are only holding the baton for a particular time frame,” he said.
He added that the BPSU is eager is pass on their positions to the young people to take the Union to another level.
Ferguson acknowledged that many young Bahamians face numerous challenges in the job market.
“I know for a fact that a lot of our young people are concerned with the fact that they are making themselves marketable and the process of advancing in the public service is really at a standstill,” he said.
He added that young people are encouraged to make themselves marketable by the Bahamas government, however once they do that they are not forced to settle for the bare minimum salary in their own country.
“We find that a lot of young people are opting to stay where they got their education, simply because the compensation is better. So in that regard we’re going to fight the government tooth and nail to enhance the salary packages that are being extended towards young people who are really qualified,” he said.
Ferguson also informed that since the BPSU Election on September 29, 2017, membership has grown significantly.
“Initially we were at 4,000 we should be around 4,500-4,700 members at this point and that’s a combination of Freeport, Grand Bahama, the various Family Islands and Nassau,” he said.