As was seen in the paper today (Tuesday, June 29th) the de facto police union, the Bermuda Police Association called an emergency meeting for its members at 1600hrs. As will be seen in the media tomorrow, the result of this meeting is that the BPA has decided to take what industrial action that it can in the next few days.
While there are many within the liberation movement who regard the police with a more or less justified degree of suspicion as agents of the State and the capitalist class, and while I certainly share many of this positions, I would like to give my public support for the just demands of the BPA and offer my solidarity with them and their industrial action. Police do not exist in a vacumn, and they are also workers and must deal with the rising costs of living that affect us all. They have been without a contract or pay rise since 2005, and in addition have some valid concerns over pensions, the physical plant and equipment of the service, the lack of Bermudians in the higher ranks, and also on community policing issues.
As they are classified as ‘essential workers’ and as such have restricted ‘legal’ avenues for industrial action, it is the duty of all workers not bound by this classification to offer their solidarity and assistance to essential workers for their demands for justice. This should range from public verbal support to actual industrial action on their behalf depending on the intransigence of management. From a purely strategic perspective, it is important to build bridges and solidarity with the police unions in order to develop reciprocal solidarity that other workers may require in the future. An example of this was made prominent last month when the South African police union acted in solidarity with the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) on the issue of arms shipments to Zimbabwe through South African territory.
The details of the BPA’s actions will become more apparent shortly. They should be fully supported by all of organised labour, workers and progressive groups everywhere.