BITU expresses condolences over deaths in Bahamas Labour Day march

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

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PRESIDENT of Jamaica's Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Senator Kavan Gayle on Monday expressed profound regret at the tragic death of four women linked to the Bahamas Financial Services Union (BFSU) during their annual Labour Day parade in Nassau last Friday.

Senator Gayle, whose union is also a member of the regional body representing workers in the financial sector, expressed “sincere condolences to my trade union colleagues from the BFSU in the Bahamas”, in a Facebook post on Sunday.

On Monday he told the Jamaica Observer that the unions' officers and members were deeply hurt by the news, and had expressed their regrets to the leadership of the union in the Bahamas as well as the BITU's management council meeting Monday at Duke Street.

The four women are: Tami Gibson, assistant secretary general of the BFSU; Diane Gray-Ferguson, mother of the union's trustee, Tiffany Moss; Tabitha Bethel-Haye, a former member who took part in the parade; and Kathleen Rodgers-Fernander, regarded as an “avid supporter” of the union and a close friend of its president, Theresa Mortimer.

Reports in the Bahamian press stated that the driver of an F-150 truck lost control of the vehicle while driving on Nassau's East Street. The vehicle ploughed into the crowd, killing the four women and injuring 24 others.

The victims were said to be participating in the annual Sir Randol Fawkes Labour Day Parade in downtown Nassau.

The incident was first rumoured to be an “Islamic terrorist attack” on social media but, eventually, the police rejected the claim and also begged individuals who had videotaped the incident to refrain from spreading pictures of the victims across all media.

According to Bahamas' Assistant Commissioner of Police Ken Strachan, “it is understood that the vehicle, when he (the driver) got out of it, it went forward, colliding first with a child along the side of the street.

“The vehicle descended the hill continuing north, ploughing into several persons who were spectating or participating in the Labour Day parade along the eastern side of East Street, and coming to rest against a Nissan March and a building at that intersection.”

In a press statement Monday, BFSU's President Theresa Mortimer said that the union would miss them “dearly”.

“Our fallen sisters would not want us to use this tragedy to break us down, but to build us up,” she said.

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