Happy Labour Day!

I just wanted to wish readers a happy labour day! I hope that the turnout at the parade was good, and that those who weren’t able to attend had a well-deserved holiday all the same.

This blog has long argued for moving Labour Day from September to May 1st – international labour day, as opposed to US Labour Day. And I continue to advocate for that.

I was a little surprised to hear that the Labour Day organising committee have decided that future Labour Day events will be in different locations rather than the traditional parade in Hamilton ending with speeches at Bernard’s Park. I am not totally opposed to the proposals, as it seems as if they may try and make it similar to the Palm Sunday walk, changing location each year to mark important labour events (which in my mind should include important events from slavery days as well). I feel that this will help to develop a better sense of history for the newer generations. What I am surprised about is what I understand to be a rather muted affair to this years event, with the traditional parade going as normal, but with less of an ending. I would have thought that this being the last year of the traditional format, and with the added impact of the global economy, it would have made sense to place an extra emphasis on this years speeches.

Anyway, I am sure that the way things are going right now (globally and locally) the labour movement in Bermuda is going to be increasingly prominent in the coming months.


31 thoughts on “Happy Labour Day!

  1. its Ironic that the history of the labour movement in Bda had its start with slaves standing up for themselves n their workers rights

    ironic cause in todays bda, modern day slavery is rampant in the bda workplace. With the labour organizations and unions turning blind eyes to whats going on because of their desire to make money off of the workers instead of protecting the birth right of bermudians and the human rights of import workers. by supporting the improvment of current laws

    the earning power of workers has eroded while the profits of bermudian employers have risen….all based on their greed. the so called labour govt sits and obseves and profits while stats report the unequal treatment and do nothing to reforrm the employment act 2000 due to fear or upsetting the business sector and their eleitests peers.

    at some point the workers of today will have to stand up like the slaves of yesterday to protect tomorrows workers

    do we have enough vision to protect future generations by forcing an adjenda of reforms?

    **ALL power to the people by any means nessicary**

  2. Jonathan,

    As I predicted, the turnout at he parade was minimal. Below, is my opinion which I shared on my radio show yesterday.

    In my opinion, the thousands of workers that demonstrated on June 27, 2008 should join in tomorrow’s Labour Day March. Bermudians should not forget what was described by Royal Gazette reporter, Amanda Dale, as “a momentous day in the history of labour relations in Bermuda” when 5,000 workers demonstrated against the government. Included in that number were 200 members of the Bermuda Police Service. I would be happy to see Janice Battersbee, at the front of the line as she has made it clear that she believes, as she was taught by her father, trade unionist Alfred Bean, “united we stand, divided we fall”. Certainly her 1,500 followers should accept that it was the untiring work of members of the Bermuda Workers Association over 60 years ago that made it possible for them to enjoy the rights and privileges that they do today.

    I wonder how many of those 5,000 workers who demonstrated on June 27, 2008 recall how the first labour day celebration came about. They should know it was not at the largesse of the then Government, the United Bermuda Party. The first labour day celebration came about at the insistence of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party, the then Opposition. It was the late C. Eugene Cox who in 1981 put forward a motion for an official May 1st Labour Day holiday. While the government of the day conceded that workers in Bermuda deserved a holiday, they amended Mr. Cox’s original motion and 28 years later we now celebrate Labour Day on the first Monday in September.

    Although there were 200 police officers that took part in the demonstration last June for higher wages, the only police officers that we should expect to see tomorrow are those that are on duty to control the crowd and direct traffic.

    The number of workers who participate in the Labour Day March continues to dwindle and rather then see 5,000 workers tomorrow, I personally would be surprised if we see 150 unionised workers marching through the streets of Hamilton. After all, this is not about money, but about showing appreciation for the work of our forefathers like Dr. E. F. Gordon, Austin Wilson, Dr. Eustace Cann, Gerald Brangman, Martin T. Wilson and other men and women who led the struggle for equal pay, fair working conditions and all of the other benefits that workers enjoy today.”

    As far as the comments from “Black Press” he continues to be out of touch with reality and is obviously not interested in becoming a part of the real world. I am just wondering when he is going to become a leader as opposed to a complainer.

  3. Hi Laverne, thankyou for the report on the low numbers and the thoughts on the event in general. It does beg the question though, about why the turn-out is so low, and what can be done about that. It seems as if organised labour is, somewhere along the line, failing to sustain its own culture, and that is a very alarming situation. While it’s undeniably true that a good part of the labour movement is about fair wages and working conditions, it has always also been about building an alternative culture and society. And common events like the labour day parade are supposed to be important in this.

    I may be wrong, but I understand the 1980s UBP government deliberately changed the motion away from MayDay in order to break the connection with labour proper (through the significance of that date), and then attempted to change the meaning of the day from one of celebrating labour to one of having a picnic and general consumerism. It seems that such a tactic of the UBP in the 1980s has been bearing fruit since, and the winning of political power by the nominally labour party has failed to reverse this trend. So, what can we do to reverse this unfortunate situation?

  4. which of the comments penned by black press are out of touch with reality?

    knowing who pays your salary its expected toat you would have opposition to what was said

    try to attack the message and not the messenger Ms Furbert

    Come back with a more substancial argument and define why the comments are out of touch with reality.

  5. The reasons for celebrating Labour Day in September are twofold:

    1. The US and Canada celebrate it at the same time. It traditionally marks the end of summer, and is analogous to the start of harvest time.
    2. We already have a holiday in May, the 24th. Why have another only three weeks later?

    There was no sinister reasoning like you imply, Jon.

  6. Black Press,

    A person that is so vocally critical of present day politics and trade unionism, and who has been for so long should by now have a following that will make some changes to the status quo. All I see you do is complain and then complain some more. Rather than complain, get involved and make some changes, or start a new political party or a new union. You can call that attacking the messenger if you like.

  7. Hi RenMan, I believe you are only partly correct in your argument. For example, why is it that the USA choose not to celebrate Labour Day on MayDay, the international labour day? This date (MayDay) was chosen by labour to commemorate an important labour date, the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, where police opened fire on workers demonstrating for an eight-hour day. The US government (under President Cleveland) sought to disconnect the symbolic importance of the date and instead adopted the September labour day. There was indeed a ‘sinister’ reason to avoid the MayDay date. I am confident that you will find that the 1980s UBP government also sought to avoid the connection with ‘radical’ symbolism that MayDay would have meant.

    As for why have another holiday so close to May 24th, surely this applies equally to the June 15th holiday?

  8. I can…….back when he was doing Gynachology classes………It was a practice run on a ‘dummy’….and it was ‘still born’…..like the current state of affairs……….

  9. The Truth,

    If you would have been there last year, you would have known that Dr. Brown and his wife attended the labour day march. This year he only attended the labour day banquet.

    Can you tell us how many other MPs (UBP & PLP) attended the labour day events?

  10. Rummy, can you tell me why the truth would “just ask that question”? Doesn’t he read the Royal Gazette every day?

  11. Settle down Verne. Innocent question although I understand your self-appointed role of pitbull in Chief.

    Touchy subject I guess. I’ve spotted more Cahows in Bermuda than confirmed sightings of Dr. Brown. I am reliably informed however that he does vacation here several times a year for a short getaway from the East coast.

    Terry Lister told us that in Parliament a couple of months ago.

  12. ms furbert

    u have failed to answer the very basic question addressed to you in the last post

    which of the comments penned by black press in the opening post are out of touch with reality?

    do you have the ability to debate?

    Its amazing how many of you old people think that the struggle has ended. with every younger generation comes a new form of the struggle.

    we challenge you to debate n come back with a more substancial argument and define why the comments are out of touch with reality.

    how is your complaining about the black press “complaining” a form of debate?


  13. Laverne,

    Can you tell us how many other MPs (UBP & PLP) attended the labour day events?

    So what you’re saying is that the Good Doctor’s behaviour is okay because that’s what other people did? Way to aim high.

  14. Black Press,

    No, I don’t know how to debate. You certainly do though. That’s your problem, you think that people should do as you want them to do. I’m not that kind of person.

    As for the rest of you, what difference does it make to you if the Premier attended this year’s labour day event, or last year’s? Did you attend? Your questions are certainly “plantation questions”. You all remind me of those people in those town hall meetings in the States. VIcious, nasty people!!

    And since when do any of you get off calling me LaVerne? That’s really a plantation mentality.

  15. By the way Black Press, every worker in this country, blue collar, and white collar, has the right to join a union. But unions cannot go on to worksites to encourage workers to join up. That’s what I mean when I say you are out of touch.

    And, if you know of any workplace where modern day slavery is taking place, you should report it to the Labour Department. No, you would rather call the radio and blog about imagined injustices, rather than doing something about it

    You tell me how the labour government profits. And what reforms would you suggest to the Employment Act? If you feel the Act needs to be reformed, who have you shared the reformations with? All you are is a complainer. Complain, complain, complain. You must be miserable to live with!!

  16. People, a little less on the personal side would be appreciated. Focus more on the ideas than the person please. That is a general statement, just to make it clear. I just don’t want this thread descending into stupidness.

    RenMan, the arguments of President Cleveland for adopting the proposal of the Knights of Labour as opposed to MayDay are abundantly clear. It is a minor point though historically I guess. But it makes more sense to bring us in line with the international labour day of May 1st – which is, I believe, a UN recognised date for one thing.

  17. Jonathan,

    These people who post on here are always personal. Whether they’re talking about the Premier or me, it’s personal.

  18. You get what you give Verne. You’re history of ugly personal attacks is long and well documented. You though extend it to whole families.

    Spare us the victimhood.

    I find these little exchanges little more than sport. You never fail to take the bait and provide great fun for the rest of us.

    Keep on keepin on.

  19. I strongly suggest commentators return to discussing the issue of why the turn-out was so low, what we can do about it, or even why we should (or shouldn’t) move it to Mayday, rather than contributing to baiting and personal animosity. And sometimes it behooves one to be the bigger person. Cool?

  20. lavern funny how u cry about personal attacks while attempting to dish them out…

    “All you are is a complainer. Complain, complain, complain. You must be miserable to live with!!”

    If i were to get down and dirty like you and reply in kind the the moderator would have an issue with me

    you do have a long history of personal attacks on blogs, u should be able to take what you give..other wise the moderator needs to censor you so that your disruptiveness does not distract from the discussion.

    and since u r unable to debate y even speak?

    now to continue the debate……

    you say the comments made in the first post are out of touch….and you give this as the reason why:

    “every worker in this country, blue collar, and white collar, has the right to join a union. But unions cannot go on to worksites to encourage workers to join up. That’s what I mean when I say you are out of touch.”

    While this is the fact on paper lavern…in the real world this isnt the fact. Bermudians and import workers are threatened regulary and intimidated, their rights not being observed by the vast majority of bermudian employers

    employees are bring forced under threat of loosing their jobs to sign away any protection they may recieve under the employment act 2000.

    to deny these every day happenings proof that it is you that is out of touch….and sadly so based on your connection to the biu..and all the stats that exist in the biu files. u of all people should know better.

    in addition….many have spoken up about the various forms of modern day slavery that takes place…many people go to the toothless labour relations office to hear the ever repeating speech on how the employment act cant or dosent cover this or defend against that.

    many have gone to your precious plp labour ministers over the years to report various abuses, and the results?

    SILENCE and no action

    when direct calls have gone to labour ministers on how bermudians get laid off b4 import workers…SILENCE

    when infractions are uncovered on how import workers are paid far far less than bermudians are paid….no action is taken aginast the lawbreaking bermudian companies

    in fact it was your own construction division who attempted to put forward a detailed listing of reforms abuses and other infractions to then labour minister n former biu pres d burgess…it was covered up and ignored as a ploy to publically embarrass him.

    the reforms mentioned were part of a list of systemic reforms that we @ black press begged you with all your so called influence to take to the plp central comitee to implament so u can be the peoples champion and activist that you claim to be….the question still remains …did you take that list we offered up to the plp yet laverne?

    modernday slavery happens every day to all non unionised persons on the island because of corruption

    your biu profits by leaving the status quo unchallenged because by supporting reforms to the unbalanced, employment act 2000…that only protects employers and does very little to protect the workers….this forces people to join your union in a false hope that they will get protection…while the biu mentality is that…if we get behind reforms or if reforms to the employment act 2000 occur and strengthen the position of the workers, we…the biu will loose income from potential members. This is why the employment act 2000 was so pooly designed in the first place.

    the bius focus is money….hence y the top heavy administration sucks so much money out of what monies the union members inject via their dues.

    your plp adminsitration turns a blind eye and profits from all of the work permit application fees…..

    turns a blind eye to how nessicary reforms to the employment act 2000 are based on the various stats commin in from different reports…cure……and the latest bda employment stats…all showing that blacks r still under paid….women still under paid…..bermudians loosing jobs…and import workers gaining jobs….all while corrput business owners profit.

    further more…with the majority of the polulation earning below the poverty line…while bermudian employers are allowed to steal from the workers by padding their quotes, that include the various perks frm the employment act 2000…ie overtime pay for eg…..they charge a client for over time work…pay the workers @ straight time, and put the remainder in their pockects as profit…that is theft n fraud

    and the biu and upb and now plp have all supported this form of theft by being silent about this

    this is proof of your collective corruption

    as long as the majority of the country are unable to earn above the $70 per yr proverty line all the organazations that say they represent workers are corrupt… and the plp is corrupt

    people in the trenches..the workers can point out how they being in trades for 15 to 20 yrs cant even break 50k per yr.

    while being placed in subservient positions while import worker staignt off the plane with no tenior get senior posts of authority.

    these older trades men can also point out how they made more money 20yrs back then people in the same positions today are making now….how can this be possible if you are correct lavern?

    and you old people have a hard time figuring out why the youngsters sell drugs..who wants to work and not get an equal share for their sweat equity?

    the bottom line is ..the people need to take this ialand back from the institutional corruption and set their own adjenda of reforms in order to equally participate in this economy.

    persons making 1500 to 2000 a week can rarely identify with the struggles of a person whos makin 600 a week or less…these persons makin 1500 to 2000 a week are out of touch with the majority of the population and can never relate to them.

    they fear reforms that will balance the ecomoic playing field for all bermudians cause they fear they will loose in some shelfish way.

    and the black press submints that its persons like yourself lavern who are out of touch with tha majority, and the struggle of today

    Its amazing how many of you old people think that the struggle has ended. with every younger generation comes a new form of the struggle.

    at some point the workers of today will have to stand up like the slaves of yesterday to protect tomorrows workers

    do we have enough vision to protect future generations by forcing an adjenda of reforms?

    **ALL power to the people by any means nessicary**

  21. Where’s the fun in that Comrade Starling? Back to work I guess. We all need a little comic relief every now and again and I for one and grateful that Laverne so ably plays the role with such vigor and sincerity.

  22. I’ll say one thing for the labour day being in September rather than May – turnout would usually be lower in September because it’s basically the last holiday before school terms begin again; people want to have that last trip stateside to get their school shopping done, or go out on the boat, etc. May 1 would encourage more people to be aware of the significance of the labour movement, in my opinion.

    Can’t offer suggestions as to why the turnouts would be lower than usual this year. Perhaps there are additional reasons based on apathy, dissatisfaction with politicians and their speeches.

  23. Was the opening of Opus on Labor Day? I note that our prem attended that particular function (Opus has a fine track record of supporting Bermoodians and workers rights).

  24. Guess what, if the Premier had attended the Laour Day March you all would be making hay and saying he used it as a photo op, as Ruby Tuesday has done above with the Opus opening. With you people, no matter what the Premier does, he’s wrong. I’m glad he’s a strong man.

  25. Laverne, your last post is simply an admission that you can’t defend him (if he was here a little more often you wouldn’t have to, at least on this point).

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