An Overreaction? Or Necessary Consequence?
I mentioned in an earlier post about the suspension of Ms MacPhee from her role as Executive Director of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce (CoC) as a result of her anti-labour yelling at the marching BIU workers last week.
Since writing that, the Chamber of Commerce has held an emergency meeting and decided to fire Ms MacPhee from her post.
The BIU PResident, Chris Furbert, has publicly commented that the CoC’s actions were unfortunate and that he didn’t feel that firing Ms MacPhee was necessary.
To me, Ms MacPhee’s position at the CoC was no longer tenable – she would become too much of a distraction to the CoC’s activities, and it would make it all too easy for unions and the working class as a whole to suspect that the CoC was essentially anti-union and anti-labour, at least as long as they continued to keep Ms MacPhee in her position.
As far as I’m concerned, the interests of the CoC, as an organisation that essentially represents business (that is, capitalist) interests in Bermuda, is organically opposed to labour and especially organised labour, although it is in its interests also to not appear antagonistic towards labour – it is in its interests to appear, at least formally, ‘neutral’.
Ms MacPhee’s outburst broke that illusion, and in doing so reduced the capacity of the CoC to operate even formally neutrally. As such, her position was no longer tenable – it threatened the neutrality of the CoC and it’s future ability.
Untenable, yes, but was firing the right route to take?
Having said that, I think the CoC made a mistake in firing Ms MacPhee like they did. Rather than firing her the CoC should have asked her to resign, and done so in such a way as to make it clear that was her best option.
Perhaps they did try that and she refused, thus moving to her firing. However, based on all the public information, that does not seem to be the case – it appears they moved straight from suspending her with no pay to outright firing her.
One might ask what the functional difference would be?
Both would indeed lead to her leaving the CoC, this is true.
However, firing her like this, rather than engineering her resignation, does lead to:
- Ms MacPhee becoming a martyr for the anti-union segments of our society;
- Makes the CoC appear overly reactionary in a knee-jerk kind of way, opening them up to other criticisms, primarily internally from their membership;
- It makes it difficult for Ms MacPhee, professionally – this is a black mark against her. While some may take some pleasure in this outcome, at the end of the day, regardless of who she is, this is yet another Bermudian unemployed, something which none of us should take any pleasure in.
- There’s also the issue of gender at play here. This isn’t something I initially thought of, but it was argued to me that if Ms MacPhee was instead a ‘Mr’ MacPhee, the outcome would have been different – perhaps a suspension or a resignation, but not a firing. How true that is I cannot say, but in as much as there remains a very real mysogynistic tendency within business, with women being judged differently even when men might make the same actions (in this case Ms MacPhee may be seen to have transgressed traditional gender lines – an angry man yelling is one thing, an angry woman yelling is another thing…), I think it’s something to consider.
So, yes, I agree Ms MacPhee had to go – her position as Executive Director was no longer tenable and was a distraction to the CoC’s interests. She had to go; the question was more about how. A period of suspension followed by a resignation would have been much more appropriate than the course taken by the CoC.
And Just a Note on ‘Neutrality’
Some people, on FB and elsewhere, have criticised my pro-labour posts for lacking neutrality.
Frankly, I’m amazed at that. Where is it written that this blog – or myself – is neutral? I’m pro-labour and pro-union. I’ve been involved in union and labour issues for well over a decade, and across countries.
The blog itself has as it’s subtitle ‘Bermudian politics and socialism for the 21st Century’.
And the language I’ve used is actually quite mild compared to many versed in the socialist or even union movements. That this language might offend bourgeois sensibilities who would prefer a kumbaya vision of the world where the reality of class war is swept under the carpet as long as it’s a one-way attack on labour, while the horrors of class war are voiced only when the workers fight back, well, I couldn’t really care less for those sensibilities.
I am independent of both the OBA and the PLP, but that doesn’t make me a ‘neutral’ in terms of politics and ideology. It just makes me independent of either party.
Anyway, just wanted to clear that up…