Bermuda’s Organised Labour

I’ve added a new category to the blogroll entitled ‘Industrial Unions.’

It has the links to the websites of some Bdian labour unions. As far as I can tell the BIU does not yet have a website, but I look forward (and encourage them) to their setting one up, hopefully with the Workers Voice accessible online. For the mean time I have put up the government provided electronic copy of the BIU ‘bluebook.’ The BPSU’s ‘yellowbook’ is accessible from their website.

I’ll add more as I can.

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27 thoughts on “Bermuda’s Organised Labour

  1. Aw, you beat me to it, I was going to put something like this up on my blog, I currently have the IWW under my radical sites roll though. Many of these sites though are still excellent resources for organized labour. I would also suggest the AFL-CIO, yes I know neither of us agrees with them but they are still never the less an excellent source for organized workers or those looking to organize. Also the Change to Win Federation is a great source. For those who do not know, the CWF broke off from the AFL-CIO in 2005 and is made up of some of the largest unions in North America including UNITE HERE, which itself is the merger of the former UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees) and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union), United Farm Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Service Employees International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Laborers’ International Union of North America. Anyway, I hope your list becomes a good resource for workers in Bermuda, both unionized and non-unionized.

  2. HAHA! I beat you! I beat you! 😛

    Just kidding! 🙂

    It had been something I’d meant to do but kept forgetting about to be honest. Thankyou for your suggestions, I’ll add a few of them. My idea is to evenutally separate it into two sections, a Bda Industrial Union category and an International Union category. I’ll do so once it gets to a critical point.

    I also hope that it becomes a good resource for workers in Bda, and with any luck it’ll encourage the BIU and the Workers Voice to go online too.

  3. I have often joked with myself that I should start an IWW chapter in Bermuda, given that I am a member and it is international, having a revolutionary syndicalist union on the Island might raise some hairs 🙂

  4. not to be overly picky, but workers world is not a union, it is a marxist political party in the U.S. who run canidates (most of the time) in elections. They are nominally a Trot group but they are somewhat (in)famous U.S. and world Trotskyism for holding certain unorthodox views.

  5. Hi Vanz.

    Honestly, as I think you might have guessed by my inactivity the last few days, I’ve kind of had my hands full with other issues. So I haven’t really had a chance to read through the papers properly.

    From what I do know of the case, I think that the dismissal was unfair.

    As I understood the system, he should have been reprimanded, and demoted, or at least not allowed to pilot the Ferry for a certain period of time. I would also have thought they should have made him go through some sort treatment course, and a period of being alcohol free before earning the right to be fully reinstated as a pilot. Dismissal just like that seemed a bit of an overkill, and I reckon a result of the publicity it generated. So it does look like the grievance procedures weren’t properly applied, and this poses a potential threat to all workers job securities.

    So, just to be clear lest anyone misunderstand me here, he deserves to be reprimanded and not allowed to pilot until he re-earns the trust of his peers there, but outright dismissal was unjustified.

  6. i agree w/ the treatment issue – we know enuff about alcoholism now to realize that it’s a complex issue – i read a few articles about similar situations with airline pilots being both suspended and sometimes even jailed – but i guess it comes down to what the CBA says – do u know in a general sense what the usual procedure is – here must be some written agreement in place between M&P and the BIU no?

  7. If you look on the blogroll under Industrial Unions there is a link BIU Bluebook Online.’ This details the agreement between Government (M&P) and the BIU, and outlines the grievance procedure. Articles 25 and 26 cover Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures. As I understand them there should be verbal report, followed by a written report, and resulting disciplinary action. Often for a case like this there would be behind the scened discussion between the Managers, the Union officials and the worker in question to work out the best way to deal with the situation.

    It doesn’t seem that this has been followed.

    I really do get the sense that the Government is playing with fire on several fronts concerning organised labour, and there are I feel some rumblings coming up. Some recent actions have been increasingly questionable. One would hope Government would avoid making more mistakes and further antagonising labour.

  8. judging from the cba:
    Stage IV Suspension or Dismissal

    2. In the event of an individual committing a proven act of gross misconduct such as fighting, theft, fraud, Management reserves the right as defined in Article 3 – Management Rights, to suspend or discharge the individual concerned immediately without invoking the full procedural steps. The Union will be informed and may investigate the circumstances.

    3. In the case of suspected gross misconduct such as fighting, theft, fraud, the individual concerned may be suspended on full pay as a precautionary measure, so that the individual may be moved from his position during the investigation, without prejudicing the situation. The suspended Employee shall be on full pay during the investigation.

    it doesn’t seem as though management followed this – maybe it was a matter of an individual manager acting alone without consulting any higher ups.

    hopefully it will be resolved amicably

  9. “So, just to be clear lest anyone misunderstand me here, he deserves to be reprimanded and not allowed to pilot until he re-earns the trust of his peers there, but outright dismissal was unjustified.”

    So you think, MAP should keep paying his salary as well as the new person that they need to hire or promote to do the job?

  10. So you don’t think driving the ferry under the influence, which is a danger to the passengers, crew, and other boaters, and breaking the law, is gross misconduct?

  11. No one, including the BIU, is stating that Brother Pearman wasn’t in the wrong with what he did. They are pointing out that with his unblemished ten year record, and the context of the incident (I would be willing to accept he made an honest mistake wiht the tonic wine, and it does point to some other questions on marketing issues), that the punishment is too severe. The BIU is asking for him not to continue as Pilot but in another capacity. It is merely a question of relocation of perssonel. Dismissal like this is not warranted and Governmnet is in the wrong, be it a Labour Government or not.

  12. The word WINE on Magnum Tonic Wine, as well as the alcohol warning that covers approximately a quarter of the front of its label, might indicate that it was, in fact, wine. At 33 proof, it is more than twice as potent as Elephant (which is twice as potent as normal beer).

  13. So I ask the question again, you don’t think that piloting the ferry while drunk is gross misconduct?

    Come on , unions fight for safe workng conditions, what about the public? Don’t we deserve to be safe as well.

    Transfer him to another job?? What message does that send to the public or even the workers? Hey tired of working on the ferry, just drink on the job, and you can get transferred to another dept.

    10 years unblemished record, so go on take that drink you earned it, don’t worry about the passengers you are boating today, the last ten years more that makes up for any one you might kill, or cripple.

    You sir, and your defense of this behavior saddens me.

    What do you think gross misconduct is?

  14. And I will state again that I agree the ferry pilot was in the wrong, and that he should not be allowed to pilot again. That is not disputed by either I or the BIU.

    What is being stated is that the punishment does not fit the crime. The pilot either has an addiction problem or made a truly stupid mistake. If it was a stupid mistake its something he’s going to have to deal with for a long time. If its an addiction problem, then he needs help with it. And do you really think firing him like this is going to help with it or make it worse?

    He has been punished. He will still be punished. The message you seem to want to send is one of draconianism. The one we want to send is that of compassion.

    Your argument that it sends a message that its okay to drink as he did says more about your crude idea of the working class. We are more responsible than you seek to portray us.

    We are relieved, as I am sure the pilot is, that no-one was injured. We are not saying he should be put into a position where he might jeopardise others again.

  15. Jonathan,

    You seem to be arguing against ‘draconian’ punishments. Was it not draconian to deport an Elbow Beach Hotel Head Chef for making a wisecrack (that all concerned admitted was a wisecrack) about having interfered with the Premier’s food? Was it not draconian for a building site foreman to have his work permit revoked because he asked a BIU representative to leave private property in circumstances where that representative had no permission to be on the property and had failed to identify himself to the site managers? I guess it’s one rule for BIU members, and one for the great unwashed, huh?

  16. Oh, and just to be clear, the ferry pilot – who must have known that he was drinking alcohol (please, please explain how he could drink seven bottles of the stuff and be oblivious to the alcohol content, and also explain why the police should have found him dousing himself with air freshener) could have killed someone. Frankly, it was only by the grace of God that he didn’t. Not only did he ram the ferry into the dock but, after docking and lowering the gangplank, he reversed the ferry, letting the gangplank drop into the water, because he was too piss drunk to release that there was a problem. Whatever justifications for this completely BS action some of you might have, there’s no way that this kind of disgusting, disgraceful threat of industrial action would have happened under a decent, upstanding guy such as Ottiwell Simmons (a truly decent man). If anything, we can see through the last week’s events that the BIU needs to regain the maturity that it had under Mr. Simmons.

  17. The seven empty bottles of Magnum tonic wine he had with him when he was arrested were equivalent to 28 beers. Give me a break – enough excuses!

  18. Oh wait I see, “What is being stated is that the punishment does not fit the crime.”

    So you agree that a crime has been committed, but you don’t think its gross misconduct? That’s interesting.

    “do you really think firing him like this is going to help with it or make it worse?”

    You are blaming the employer for his mistakes!! He lost his job, because of his gross misconduct, he doesn’t have a job because of his actions, if he has an addiction that to is from his actions.

    You are trying to paint him as the victim, yes his life might be worse but at the end of the day, he has no one to blame but himself.

  19. i just don’t think that the punishment fits the “crime” but all of that is moot because even it was gross misconduct – the CBA doesn’t nor provide for an instant firing. – u can’t break one rule in order to punish someone for breaking another rule.

  20. Page 5, CBA

    ARTICLE 3
    Management Rights

    The Union recognises the Employer’s right to manage its own operations, to direct the
    working force, including the right to hire those workers it considers most suitable for
    its operation, to suspend or discharge for just cause, to transfer, and the right to relieve
    Employees from duties because of lack of work or other legitimate reasons, subject
    only to such limitations as are provided in this Agreement. However, an Employee
    who believes he has been unjustly treated shall have the right to submit his claim by
    following the Grievance Procedure set out in Article 25 of this Agreement

    “to suspend or discharge for just cause”

    I think Vanz it says it right there that they can discharge for just cause

    then a little further down under

    Page 19
    ARTICLE 26
    Disciplinary Procedure

    Stage IV Suspension or Dismissal

    2. In the event of an individual committing a proven act of gross misconduct such
    as fighting, theft, fraud, Management reserves the right as defined in Article 3 –
    Management Rights, to suspend or discharge the individual concerned
    immediately without invoking the full procedural steps. The Union will be
    informed and may investigate the circumstances.

    He was suspended, after his day in court, where he was found guilty, (fined the max, the DPP said they would appeal, because they want jail time). Then management discharges him.

    What rule do you think was broken Vanz?

  21. Hi Loki,

    You’ll note that I opposed the Chefs deportation over on Limey. I thought that the manner it was done by did not allow for due process. I agreed that the Chef was in the wrong and that he should be punished, but I didn’t agree with the way it was handled. I wrote a post on this blog (I’ll find it later) concerning the construction worker.

    Again, no one is disputing that the pilot was in the wrong, and that yes, he could’ve killed or seriously injured passengers. No one is calling for him to be put into a position of similar responsibility again. What we are calling for is some understanding and due process. Thats all.

    Galt, what do you think constitutes ‘gross miscondunct?’ And yes, I kind of guessed that you include the pilot’s actions as such, but I’m curious all the same. Also you’ll note that there is a clause there that says the Union may investigate and has the effective right to ‘appeal’ the decision. I think this is kind of what is going on right now.

    He may well have only himself to blame, fine. But as a society should we try to help him or leave him to himself? From my perspective I say we should all help.

  22. “What we are calling for is some understanding and due process. Thats all”

    No what you are doing is trying to dictate to the employer how to run their business.

    “the Union may investigate and has the effective right to ‘appeal’”

    Right I agree but like I stated there was a police investigation and he had his day in court and was found guilty. So what investigation did the union do? Did they uncover any facts that show the pilot was not guilty of GROSS MISCONDUCT? No they didn’t your argument isn’t ‘that what he did is not GROSS MISCONDUCT’, you won’t even answer my questions like the coward you are. Because you realize that any sane person would agree that it was GROSS MISCONDUCT, and that the employer is well within their rights to dismiss him.

    Instead you counter with what about the pilot? you try to paint him as the victim, and the employer as the person responible for his actions, and you want the employer to pay to correct the mistakes this man has made.

    Here’s a suggestion, why don’t you vote to increase the union dues that way the union could have money to pay for programs and support union members who are fired because of drug use and other cases of GROSS MISCONDUCT. Bet you that vote wouldn’t pass.

    “He may well have only himself to blame, fine. But as a society should we try to help him or leave him to himself? From my perspective I say we should all help.”

    Here’s my perspective, get your hand out of my pocket, if you want to “Help” then you pay for it and stop trying to force others to.

    If you google GROSS MISCONDUCT first hit you get a couple of examples.

    “This is the difference between misconduct and gross misconduct. In order for something to amount to gross misconduct it has to be so serious as to go to the root of the contract. Various examples of gross misconduct include:

    Fighting
    Being drunk on duty
    Stealing
    Harassing people
    Subjecting people to racial abuse
    Failing to obey reasonable management instructions

    Check it out for yourself, and going by the contract you tell me if you really think that the employer is wrong.

    I think it is clear that the union will breaking the contract if they strike on this issue.

  23. Jonathan,

    Just to be clear, but I wasn’t suggesting that you were being a hypocrite, but I do believe that the BIU is being incredibly hypocritical: you may recall that it was actually a union shop steward that set the ball rolling on the chef matter. Furthermore, what about the Canadian foreman that had his work permit revoked after a complaint made by George Scott in his capacity as a union official? I believe that Mr. Scott’s admitted words, after being asked to cease trespassing on private property were, “I will see you off this island.” Of all the causes that the BIU workers could have got up in arms about, they chose to defend this guy? Oh, and it’s not just about whether he should be reinstated as a pilot or given some other role: he didn’t just endanger lives, he committed a serious breach of trust, and trust is required regardless of the specific job one has in that Department. God knows, there are plenty of just causes for the workers to speak out on, I’m just astonished that they chose this cause.

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