Labour Disputes Act 1992 – Section 19

Labour Disputes Act 1992

Not too long ago the Minister responsible for labour, Minister Fahy, published a ‘Declaration of Labour Dispute’, as per the Labour Disputes Act 1992 (opens as a pdf).

This essentially declared that a labour dispute exists between the Government and X number of Government workers.

Importantly, the publication notes that as a result of this labour dispute has now been referred to the Labour Disputes Tribunal.

Now, while this notice is based on section four (which notes the need for publication of the notice in question) and section eleven (which empowers the Minister to refer a dispute to a tribunal), perhaps the most relevant section of this Act is not mentioned in the notice – section nineteen.

So, what does section nineteen say?

Section 19

(1) At any time after the notice mentioned in section 4 is published or at any time after a labour dispute is referred to the Tribunal and the dispute in either case is not otherwise determined, a lock-out, strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike is unlawful.

(2) It is unlawful to commence or continue or to apply any sums in furtherance or support of, any lock-out, strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike that is unlawful under subsection (1).

(3) Any person who takes part in, incites or in any way encourages, persuades or influences any person to take part in, or otherwise acts in furtherance of, a lock-out, strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike that is unlawful under this section is guilty of an offence and is liable – 

 (a) on conviction on indictment to a fine of five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for two years, or both;

(b) on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for three months:

Provided that no person shall commit an offence under this section by reason only of his having ceased work or refused to continue to work or accept employment.

So, what does this mean?

Well, it basically makes it illegal to continue the mass strike, to occupy the Cabinet Lawn or, if I’m reading it rightly, for a blog such as mine to write in support of such action.

I don’t think it circumvents our constitutional rights however, which include the right of freedom to assembly and freedom of speech.

As such, I don’t see anyway to stop people continuing to occupy the Cabinet Lawn under the right of freedom of assembly.  So, in theory, workers could occupy the grounds during their lunch hours or using their furlough days (might as well take advantage of them to get rid of them!) as in that capacity they wouldn’t technically be on strike.

And the freedom of speech right allows one to advocate the above and other positions too.

Whether the unions will adopt either of the two, I don’t know.

The unions might agree to the tribunal and call their members to avoid breaking the law.

Conceivably the unions may chose to simply ignore the notice and dare the Government to take action.  It’s a high-stakes game at that point.


UPDATE!!!

I understand that while I was writing and posting this, the union leaders have effectively called the Government’s bluff and ruled out arbitration, and have called for workers to engage in a third day of action.  They’ve also stated they plan to be out all night and have invited people to join them.

I think the potential for an attempt to silence the workers ad crush the unions is suddenly much more real.  I spoke in an earlier post about the need to prepare for potential police intimidation, and with the passing of this notice the Government has somewhat given themselves a carte blanche to do just that.

Technically, the unions are not on strike but at a general meeting.  So that may get around the legal issue of section 19, although I’m sure that will be open to dispute by those opposed to the union and by the Government.  Either way, I think it’s clear this isn’t going to end soon, or amicably.

Interestingly, the unions are now calling on their members from outside the public sector to join them in this general meeting tomorrow, which, while technically not a general strike, is, pretty much, a general strike.

 

 

Call for a boycott?

On the Bernews live-feed about the developments around the mass strike, there was a comment that a pamphlet was being passed around advocating a boycott of products brought in by Dunkley’s Dairy, as an attempt of showing solidarity with the workers and to send a message to Premier Dunkley.

The image of the pamphlet in question is here – I’m not sure how clear all of the products are in the picture though.

Credit to Bernews for the image.

Credit to Bernews for the image.

Now, the argument for the boycott is as I wrote above – send a message to the Premier and hit his bank account.

Arguments against such a boycott is that any hit to the Premier’s bank account (in as much as Dunkley’s Dairy is family owned by him) will be pushed onto workers there – so in showing solidarity with one group of workers one would be hurting another group.

Pros and cons.

In a way I guess one could look at it by taking an extreme example – the boycott of goods under Apartheid South Africa.

The pro for that boycott was that it would help pressure for change within South Africa – which, arguably, it did.  Importantly, such a boycott was called for and supported also by the liberat

ion movement there, the ANC (just as the call to boycott Apartheid Israel is supported by the liberation movement there).

The con was that it would hurt the very people it was intended to help, by doing Blacks out of a job and a wage.

Now, that is, of course, an extreme example, and I’m in no way comparing Dunkley’s Dairy to Apartheid South Africa.  It’s just one of the most famous examples of a consumer boycott movement.

So, to boycott or not to boycott?  Is this an additional ‘weapon’ in the class war we’re seeing unfolding dramatically before us?

First Reading of the Port Royal Report

Okay, I’ve finally been able to sit down and review the Auditor General’s report on the Port Royal golf-course.

I’m not going to write about it here, just wanted to give a heads-up as many readers have emailed me, or commented on posts (here or on Bernews) asking where my comment on that report is.  I intend to write about it, I just want to reflect and mentally digest the report first – I need to figure out the particular tack by which I think it should be framed.

In general though, I think it reads as a summary of general institutional failure all round, raises a lot of questions about how that was allowed to happen and what lessons can be learned from it going forward with large capital projects – of which the America’s Cup and the proposed airport redevelopment come to mind.

It’s also clear that the law was simply not followed, either out of incompetence, accident (same thing as incompetence?) or something much more problematic.  However, and I’m writing this prior to consulting the various legislation, it isn’t clear to me what possible consequences this might lead to – who should be held responsible and what consequences should there be?

Ultimately I think I’m reading it as a cautionary tale of institutional failure with the focus on what changes need to be done and what lessons we can learn from it.

Anyway, as I said, I’m gonna reflect on it for a bit.  Hopefully I’ll release something within a week.

Yes, I’ve been a negligent blogger…

My apologies to readers, I’ve been neglecting the site since New Years.

I kind of took a break during the Christmas and New Years holidays, and it’s always hard to restart after a break.  Been suffering some writer’s block I guess.

This is now the eighth year of this blog.  I never intended it to go this long – heck, I expected it to be merely an exploration of blogs to see what they’re all about and how they work ‘beneath the hood’.  It’s been an interesting journey since then.

I’m considering focusing more on theory this year.  I’m thinking of maybe doing some reviews of articles on various subjects, perhaps economics.  I don’t know, just toying with the idea right now really.

Either way, I hope to restart blogging more regularly shortly!

Happy New Year 2015!

My apologies for the lack of posts of late, I’ve been (and still am) on holiday and not really been online much.

When I logged in today for the first time in about two weeks I had over 80 comments to moderate.  The vast majority of these were spam, although the nature of such spam comments has changed greatly.  Some were really not that easy to readily identify as spam.  Which leads me to have concerns about what that might mean for moderating comments going forward…

I’ve got a lot of news to review having been off-line for a bit, and 2015 is going to be a crazy busy and pivotal year.  However, I’ve got a mostly good feeling about it.

Happy New Year everyone!

Totally Swamped – And Brief Thoughts on OPEC & Geopolitics…

Still here, just busy!

My apologies to readers – the blog has been a bit dormant of late.  I have no excuse, I’ve just been completely swamped with things, and the blog has had to take a backseat accordingly…

OPEC & Geopolitics

I couldn’t help notice the insistence of OPEC – or, more specifically Saudi Arabia – on continuing to over-saturate the market with oil, leading to a collapse in oil prices (although I don’t expect that to be reflected in our BELCO bills anytime soon…).

Now, this has had an immediate effect, globally, on some key geopolitical actors that also happen to be overly reliant on petrochemicals.  In particular, I’m thinking of Russia, Iran and Venezuela.

All three of these countries have been, shall one say, ‘at odds’ with the interests of Saudi Arabia and the USA (Saudi Arabia and the USA also having some tension too).

Photo credit to 'Green & Gold News' of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Photo credit to ‘Green & Gold News’ of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Russia and Iran have been central to the proxy war in Syria-Iraq, providing key diplomatic, financial and military support to the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and (more Iran here) the Shia-dominated Iraqi government.  Even Venezuela has played a minor role in criticising Western and Saudi interference in Syria.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have also been waging proxy wars, to various degrees, throughout the region, notably in Bahrain (where a de facto Saudi military invasion has prevented the overthrow of the minority Sunni dictatorship) and Yemen (where Shia Houthi rebels are increasingly the dominant power).

And despite a thawing of US-Iran relations, notably over the mutual opposition to Da’ish in Iraq, the US and Iran have been political rivals in the region for over three decades now.

Venezuela has been less of an issue to Saudi Arabia than it has to the USA, being as it is in closer proximity to the US and what the US regards as its ‘backyard’.

However, socialist Venezuela has developed strategic relationships with Iran (and Syria) and Russia, and been critical of Western and Saudi interference in North Africa and the Middle East (especially as regards the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and the Saudi financed coup against Morsi in Egypt).

Over-saturating the oil market, causing a collapse in the oil price, directly impacts Iran, Russia and Venezuela – it weakens them financially, which subsequently weakens them politically.  At least in Venezuela, and to a lesser extent Russia and Iran, this could lead to political ruptures, serving as a pretext for proxy actors to attempt a coup or psuedo-revolution.

Am I in tin-foil hat territory?  Perhaps.  However, we know the West has cynically hijacked legitimate democratic protests to effect regime change, and we know the West has engaged in economic terrorism to facilitate regime change – as has Saudi Arabia.

So, who knows?  Even if I am seeing a conspiracy where there’s none, who wants to bet the consequences will be the same – a weakened Iran, Russia and Venezuela, and even perhaps regime change?

 

The Sun Set & Blog Matters

Sun Archives Inaccessible?

While the Bermuda Sun closed down some months ago now, up until a few days ago it was still possible to access their online stories.  However, now when one tries to go to a Bda Sun link one just gets a picture of a setting sun.

I get it, it’s poetic.  However, I am disappointed that it seems the Sun’s online archive is no longer available.  There were some key stories in the Sun which the RG simply refused to run, and now without access to them, well, if you’ll excuse the phrase, it sort of whitewashes a good chunk of our recent politics and history.

Maybe there’s still a way to access these articles, I don’t know.

On Blogs

Despite a blog explosion earlier this year, I don’t think there’s really been any net change to the blogs really.

The explicitly pro-OBA blog The Soapbox only ever posted four articles and has been dormant since September – I’m not confident of it being very active, if at all, going forward.

Vexed Bermoothes, a relative veteran of Bermudian political blogging pretty much went dormant earlier this year, and as of a few days ago ceased to exist.  One just gets a ‘this webpage is not available’ message now.  Which, like the Sun’s archives, is disappointing.

21 Square went dormant a while ago, and due to technical problems was inaccessible for a period of time – and lost some of its archives too.  I’m hopeful it will resume a degree of activity going forward though.

Politics.bm remains up, but has been dormant since March, 2013.

New Onion was dormant for almost exactly a year, but has posted a flurry of articles in September – nothing since however.

Beachlime remains active, as does Bermuda Blue, and, to a more sporadic degree so does Bermuda Independent.

There is a new blog however, which I’ve been meaning to link to, Thirty-Four, by Kristin White, which has been quite active and an interesting read.

Right of Recall – Draft for Consultation

Apologies for the lack of posts lately – last week was rather hectic for me.

I’ve released a draft Right of Recall Act for public consultation, with the hope of (a) getting constructive criticism to improve it; and (b) encouraging the Government to speed up their commitment to this, and other, political reform(s).

In developing the draft I relied heavily on existing recall legislation in British Columbia (Canada) and the UK, as they have a related legislative history to ours.  I also consulted other jurisdictions, namely various US States, Venezuela and Switzerland. fountain-pen-1441111-m

I’ve tried to strike a balance between direct democracy and not letting the process be hijacked by party politics.

I’m hoping for feedback, both here, on Facebook, the Bernews post and the RG article.

I’m sure there’ll be people who will either attack me personally – and ignore the draft itself – or ignore it completely out of political animosity towards me.  However, I’m hoping that most people will see it as an effort to accelerate the pace of political reforms and contribute some genuine feedback on it.

I would love it if a Senator or MP adopts the draft and introduces it as a private bill on my behalf.

Beyond that, in as much as the Government claims to remain committed to these political reforms, by introducing a draft and encouraging feedback on it, the Government too can benefit from the feedback in designing their own Act, should they choose not to adopt the one I’ve offered.

I cannot stress enough, that if we, the electorate, do not push for things like this, if we don’t advocate and act for their adoption, then the politicians have absolutely no incentive to change the status quo – a status quo that they actively benefit from.

If you want our politicians to become more accountable to the people, then you need to take action to ensure they adopt these reforms rather than simply hoping they’ll do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  It doesn’t happen that way.  They will only adopt these reforms if they calculate it’s in their interest – in this case, that they’ll suffer a backlash at the polls if they don’t.

Of course, in our severely polarised racial-economic political reality, both parties believe they don’t need to worry too much about that possibility due to a combination of our polarised politics (where key voting blocs will vote for their party against the other no matter what) and the historical passivity of our people.

Nonetheless, swing voters determine election outcomes here.  And if an issue such as these political reforms grows enough to capture a significant chunk of the swing vote, then both parties will push to adopt the issue as their own.

So, hopefully there will be some good feedback from this draft Right of Recall Act, and hopefully voters will lobby their MPs to get a move on, or to even adopt my offering.

The full draft is available on the Bernews article itself, or you can open a pdf here.

New Bermudian News Media

Beachlime has pointed out that there’s a new Bermudian news outlet that has been launched.

It appears to be a wholly online news site, and it looks like a direct rival to Bernews, who pioneered the model in Bermuda.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this development – after the demise of the Bermuda Sun I, and many others, were pessimistic about what this means for media diversity and the state of journalism in Bermuda.  Today we have the following:

Royal Gazette – only newspaper (a six-day daily)

Bernews – an online news site newspaper-273525-m

Today in Bermuda – an online news site

Politica – an online investigative journalism site

ZBM & VSB – our two local TV and radio news stations

Note I said cautiously optimistic though.  There has to be questions about whether there’s enough market share to sustain these news media sites without public subsidies or some sort of new business model.

I’m certainly hoping that all these – and more – news sites can survive and enhance our news media, and thus play an important role in creating an informed electorate and keep our politicians accountable.

I guess time will tell.  In the mean time, good luck Today in Bermuda (and all the other media outlets)!