Quick thoughts on the current situation

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!

  1. The actions of the Government have solidified and unified organised labour in Bermuda.
  2. The actions of the last day have shown the workers what power they can have and set a precedent to build on going forward.
  3. Despite this, questions must be asked of the union leadership:
    1. Have they capitulated to the Government too much and too quickly?
    2. If so, why?  What caused this?  Were they misled, or were they afraid of something? If so, how, or what?
    3. 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.
    4. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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2 thoughts on “Quick thoughts on the current situation

  1. Err. Not so fast comrade, let’s see reaction to unions wanting $5million deducted from financial assistance. meddling with schools ,Ag show etc. Etc… this is nothing about workers, it’s a power play by plp-biu zealots, workers were not polled ,just lectured to and prodded with sticks to stay in the Pasteur, the workers, are not that stupid & passive ,especially parents of young children , Very disgusted in the cowardly silence from black churches & silent majority

  2. So, not agreeing to anything that affects employees other than a gesture on overtime premia.

    I suspect we will now see demanning by way of redundancies. Not good when other employee savings were available.

    ………………………………………………………………

    Minister Richards’ full statement follows below:

    Good afternoon:

    To ensure that the public are fully aware of the kinds of cost reductions being considered, I wish to share some of the proposals that have been agreed to by the Government and the BTUC.

    The Unions have agreed to our proposed expenditure reductions, including:

    ~ Place a cap on Financial Assistance to reduce the allocation by $5M;

    ~ To achieve savings of approximately $1M by consolidating schools;

    ~ To reduce the Travel budget by $1M;

    ~ To raise the GEHI contribution that employees pay for uninsured spouses from 50% to 75%, saving $1.6M; and

    ~ To suspend the Agricultural Exhibition for one year for a savings of $0.4M

    Some of our proposals which were not agreed to by the BTUC included:

    ~ A cost sharing of employee pensions, increasing the rate paid by employees and decreasing that paid by the Government by 1 %, realizing a savings of $3.5M;

    ~ A payment of all overtime at straight time. I‎nstead, the Unions agreed to accept overtime that is normally paid at double time, at time and one half. They did not agree to any changes to overtime that is currently paid at time and one half.

    As a further note, the Bermuda Police Service and Corrections Officers were not in agreement in paying 50% of their health benefits, as is the case with all other negotiating bodies. This option is still being discussed with the Bermuda Police Association as it is just and equitable. ‎

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