I intend in this post to just put down some quick thoughts on the current situation; apologies for them not being fully worked out – just putting them out there for the sake of encouraging feedback!
- The actions of the Government have solidified and unified organised labour in Bermuda.
- The actions of the last day have shown the workers what power they can have and set a precedent to build on going forward.
- Despite this, questions must be asked of the union leadership:
- Have they capitulated to the Government too much and too quickly?
- If so, why? What caused this? Were they misled, or were they afraid of something? If so, how, or what?
- What is the role of Reverend Tweed in all this? I respect him and I think the People’s Campaign is great, but the actions here were the unions. And yet Reverend Tweed seemed to be involved in the negotiations with Government. Why? He’s not elected by the members.
- Were union members adequately involved in the decision making of the last few days? If not, why not, and how can that be handled better going forward?
- The BTUC should release ALL of the proposals they’ve put to Government. Both originally and subsequently. Right now we only know what the Government has agreed to, and the Government has every interest in being selective on this, and spinning it to their advantage. The BTUC should let the people know what they proposed and why, immediately.
- Following the confusion from last nights talks, with two rather different interpretations coming from the BTUC and the Government, the question has to be asked of whether any further negotiations should be conducted privately. Perhaps its time for the BTUC to insist that any subsequent negotiations be either down in full view of the public, or at least with selected journalists present. Alternatively, at the very least, the full minutes of these negotiations should be released now.
- In the three days of action we saw an unprecedented level of organisation, with provision of food and shelter at the occupation of Cabinet Lawn, and even entertainment. We also saw the beginnings of community mobilisation to deal with (a) supporting the workers; (b) dealing with waste management; and (c) transportation for workers. In this we saw an embryonic new form of society, a participatory and grassroots system, based on both the workplace and the neighbourhood. These were only embryonic, but point towards future developments and an alternative social and economic model.