Theresa Sands-Mortimer - Bahamas Financial Services Union

It was in early 2000 that the then Barclays Bank PLC decided that they wanted to leave the Caribbean. The staff in the Bahamas was not unionized.

A small number of the employees (I was included) went to work to ensure that the staff in the Bahamas spoke with one voice. Immediately, we began to communicate with the other employees in the Caribbean to fight for the best way forward for over four hundred rank and file staff. We prepared a constitution and learnt the process of the way forward to forming a trade union. We were on our way to joining in the fight with our other Caribbean counterparts along with UNI’s guidance. In 2001 the Bahamas Financial Services Union became history as it got the rights to legally represent all non-managerial staff in Barclays Bank PLC. Once we had satisfied our country’s requirement of having fifty plus one percent of the employees on board, we immediately joined our brothers and sisters to represent our members in the sale of Barclays Bank PLC to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. In 2002 the union held its first election of officers and I was elected as the first president of the BFSU. One of the associations that the Union was instrumental in forming was a partnership agreement with the management team of CIBC First Caribbean International Bank throughout the Caribbean. After seeing the good of UNI, the BFSU became a member. Being new in the trade union movement, the fight was hard and fierce, but being a part of UNI made a positive difference for the newest trade union on the block. We were in a win-win situation. The learning experience had to be quick but today I have been involved in many collective agreements for the employees of CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (Bahamas) Limited, Bahamas Island Credit Union and Klonaris Law Company. We are still getting our feet anchored to take on Commercial Banks, Offshore Banks, Law Offices, Credit Union and any employers within the financial sector that deal with the collection of funds. Being the president of BFSU has afforded me the privilege to serve as UNI American Women’s Department President for which I am truly grateful. As a big sister I want to empower sisters throughout the world to take their rightful places. Solidarity Forever The Union Makes Us Strong.