In Full Solidarity With the Workers!

I will write a more in-depth post later, especially after reading over the various press conferences and statements that should be flooding the various news media shortly.

Full solidarity!  Fight back!

Full solidarity! Fight back!

However, I just wanted to make a quick post to state my full solidarity with the workers who have taken industrial action today.

I set out this lunchtime to collect signatures for the petition for a referendum on casino gambling, on the corner of Reid and Queen Street.  However, shortly after starting there I got news that the workers were marching, and so I headed off along Reid Street and up to Union Street to join them.

I completely missed all the marches though.  When I got there the first march was over, and I left apparently before the second march as I thought they were going in for a meeting and I had an errand to run, only to find out after that I’d missed the second march.  Bad timing on my part.


As per the petition, very good reception, lots of signatures, and there were at least three others going around collecting signatures.  I ran into the General Secretary of the BPSU who confirmed to me that in the BPSU’s view, any civil servant is free to sign the petition – he even went and said as such on the radio immediately after I spoke with him.  And the BPSU is now also hosting petitions.  All in all, I imagine we got well over 200 signatures there.

The Current Issue

While this current labour issue superficially about the bungled handling of redundancies, it is, as I understand it, much deeper than that.

Since the OBA came to power in the 2012 General Election, I think it’s fair to say (based on what I’ve been reading in the media and in communication with workplaces, both public sector and private) there has been an increasingly aggressive move by management and bosses to roll back workers rights and wages.

Quite frankly, there’s been a concerted effort to try and push back all the gains of the labour movement, pushing us back to the 1970s, if not further, in terms of workers rights (or, rather, lack thereof).

The bungled handling of the redundancies at Hamilton Princess really was just the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camels back’.  The way the hotel handled it flew in contravention of the collective bargaining agreement, and while the Government has sent this to arbitration, unless the Hotel rescinds it’s redundancies of the workers in question, arbitration is itself redundant.  For both parties to agree to arbitration requires both parties to go back to the status quo before the redundancies – which means the workers going back to work.

Fight Back!

As said, to me this issue is only superficially about the redundancies at the hotel.  This is much wider.

This is about fighting back against the aggressive and offensive actions of the bosses island wide who have sought to exploit the economic crisis to roll back workers rights.

This is about finally taking a stand against the capitalists and saying the working class has had enough – it’s time for a fight back.

With the OBA winning power in 2012 the working class lost access to the levers of state power.

As tenuous as it may have been under the PLP, it was still an organic link via the party.  The OBA’s election emboldened the capitalists, especially the traditional capitalists, the old oligarchy, and particularly the more market fundamentalist wings of the capitalist class here.

The statements by various OBAers, including surrounding the SAGE commission (and especially since the Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Monday, the pre-budget one, which has to be seen as contributing to the current atmosphere of labour relations), has encourages the market fundamentalists and the offensive push by capital to roll back workers rights.

Critical, but full support

I remain in full support of any action taken by the working class, and any fightback against attempts to roll back workers rights.

Full support doesn’t always mean I fully agree with this or that tactic or strategy though.

I thought the unions made a strategic error in signing the memorandum of understanding with Government last year – I felt that they had underestimated their position of strength and should have pushed for concessions from the Government, including the introduction of minimum wage and relief from utilities and rent.

And there’s always the question of whether a strike, in the traditional sense, is always the right tactic, particularly as regards public transport.

I feel that a better tactic might be to ensure a full schedule, but not taking tokens or money – demonstrate to the people what an efficient public tranpsortation system can be, and don’t give the capitalists a stick to beat you with, by trying to drive a wedge between striking workers and those workers left marooned or stressed out about getting their children from school due to the buses and ferries not running.

Occupy the buses instead, and ensure solidarity across the different divisions of the working class, for example.

Full solidarity with the fightback!



8 thoughts on “In Full Solidarity With the Workers!

  1. Hamilton Princess had clearly mishandled this from the start – I don’t think they really had much of a choice – they were just clearly in the wrong.

    I believe that the general labour issues in Bermuda are only temporarily resolved here, in the general sense in as much as they can be under capitalism. The aggressive class war from the bosses has been temporarily checked and this is clearly a victory, however temporary, for labour and the union in particular.

    Having said that, there’s plenty of more battles ahead in the immediate future, especially over the civil service, pensions and privatisation (or mutualisation as the Government is spinning it). All this does is strengthen the unions in advance of those battles – which is a good thing. However, the battles to come will be long and difficult.

    The class war continues, even if this battle seems to be over for now.

  2. I would agree with you that there are some very significant issues to be faced in the months/years ahead. And, without question, the Princess proposed redundancies were very badly handled.

    Why do you see fixing the pensions mess as a class war issue. Should we just leave the pension schemes in the mess they are today?

    I predict tears all round when we get to that issue. I can’t see a way through that would be mutually agreeable and also workable.

  3. I don’t agree in leaving the pensions in the mess they’re in, no, but the question becomes one of how one goes about fixing them.

    This can be done in a progressive way (and I suggested one approach before – or in a regressive way. I fear (based on reading the SAGE report) that the likelihood is that the current Government will attempt to deal with them in a regressive way, through pension privatisation and a shift to Defined Contribution (DC), rather than Defined Benefit (DB). While DC may be implemented in such a way as to not be overly regressive, in general they have been regressive steps.

  4. You can’t have a DB scheme unless the employer pays what is necessary to ensure the asset/liability ratio is – and remains – appropriately balanced.

    For the main schemes to get into the mess they are currently in, it begs the question whether the employer (the Govt) has paid in what is required.

    I hope they have.

  5. The great Winston Churchill once said if you are young and conservative you had no heart. If you are old and liberal you have no brain.

    You mean the workers building the wall by Paget stop lights weren’t there for a couple days? I didn’t notice! Lol

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