Weekly Worker – Week of October 5th, 2020 @BermudaPSU @BUTBermuda @ESTU_BDA @OfficersPrison

Here is a round-up of what’s been happening around the Bermuda unions:

Bermuda Public Services Union

For some reason (I suspect the disruption brought by covid-19) the BPSU has not published it’s quarterly Feedback newsletter since their 2019 Q4 one on December 19th, 2019. Nonetheless, there are some updates on their site worth noting:

  1. When Can I Retire flyer published on October 8th – This flyer provides information for workers about the change of the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 68, and notes who is exempted from this change (basically the uniformed services and teachers).
  2. Extending Employment Beyond Age 68 published on October 8th – This complements the flyer (above) and goes into more detail about the policy change. It provides the background to the change and a short FAQ concerning it.
  3. MOU on Vacation Carryover published on October 9th – This is a copy for workers to be aware of the terms of the MOU agreed between the union concerning a special agreement to carryover vacation days from 2020 into 2021. Due to the disruptions caused by covid-19 workers have not been able to take their vacation time in full and risked losing their vacation days. Basically, it allows for (i) the 60% leave requirement be suspended through 2020; and (ii) the 20 day carry over limit to be suspended through to end of 2021.
  4. A copy of the Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act 2019 – This is the legal underpinning for the extending of the retirement age noted above.

The only other thing worth noting here is that on Friday, October 2nd, the BPSU held an urgent meeting of its membership at Victoria Park (on account of covid-19 precautions) to discuss ‘Government’s austerity measures’.

While the details of this meeting have not been provided, it is likely (based on the subject matter) that it regards the BPSU considering the MOU agreed with Government back in July to have been rendered void by the decision of the uniformed services to reject similar austerity measures – and as such the BPSU would likely be looking to restart talks with the Government concerning this.

It is perhaps worth noting that the vote to accept the austerity measures in July (which included the premise that the MOU would only come into effect if and when all unions agreed to the terms) was a very close vote, with 54% voting to accept the austerity terms and 46% voting to reject them (as per the numbers given in the RG article cited above).

Bermuda Industrial Union

There does not seem to be any news or updates from the BIU this week. Their last issue of the Worker’s Voice uploaded to their website was in August, and the last event or news posted was for the Annual Labour Day Banquet at the end of August.

One of the big issues that the BIU is dealing with at the moment is the closure of the Fairmont Southampton Princess. This closure has led to about 700 workers being laid off – of which about 400 are Bermudians.

Bermuda Union of Teachers

The BUT celebrated World Teachers Day on Monday, October 5th with a ceremony at City Hall, as well as with a video address to Education International.

The BUT’s members are of course now back in the classroom with the new school year, complete with the stresses of teaching during a pandemic involves. Additionally, the re-elected Government will be launching significant school reforms over the next few years, so the BUT will likely be digesting the challenges ahead.

Electrical Supply Trade Union

The ESTU’s website doesn’t have much on it, and their social media accounts have not been updated recently (their Twitter last in May 2015 and their Facebook page last in November 2018).

Nonetheless, the big news for their members is the sale of BELCO/Ascendant to the Canadian company Algonquin was approved on October 7th. What this means for the ESTU remains to be seen.

Bermuda Entertainment Union

The BEU’s website does not seem to have been updated since 2017, however their Facebook page does seem regularly maintained. In September the BEU was featured in the news concerning their hopes to expand their membership before the end of the year.

I am not seeing anything else from the other unions who seem to be lacking much of an online presence at the moment. I will look to cover more going forward.

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