According to the Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, the BIU has been “left out in the cold” by the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU.) According to Mr. Furbert, the union will “not back down” despite this challenge.
After initially opposing the Government’s decertification bill back in December, the BPSU eventually accepted the terms within it less than six months later.. Mr. Furbert believes that the changes within the bill, which officially came into effect yesterday, will negatively affect the BIU more than any other union on the island and threatens the union’s mere survival and existence.
Mr. Furbert told the Royal Gazette’s Jonathan Bell that the BIU was left “shocked and amazed that the BPSU just dropped us. We are out in the cold, which is no way to treat a sister union.”
According to Mr. Furbert, members of the BIU thought that both unions would stand against the decertification bill together.
Despite the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act already being in effect, negotiations are continuing between the BIU and the Government and Mr. Furbert has already discussed his concerns with Premier David Burt and the Minister of Labour Jason Hayward. The BIU is currently seeking legal advice for this situation.
“ The Government is ready to have a conversation with the BIU and they are looking at trying to figure out how they can work with us, because it is not their intent to destroy the BIU,” he told Mr. Bell.
According to Mr. Furbert, 90 percent of BPSU members work within the public sector; however, 75 percent of BIU members work in the private sector.
There has been an offer from Government involving a “grandfather clause”, from the 1965 Act with the new act. This clause would absolve existing agreements from the new changes.
BIU lawyers are examining the first draft of this proposal. Mr Furbert said a draft of the proposal was being examined by the union’s lawyers.
“ Decertification is a delicate issue,” he said. “Respectfully, I do not think that government can afford to get this wrong.”
“Decertification is fine,” he continued. “ It is who is able to participate in the process where we have the issue.”
Credit to: Jonathan Bell, the Royal Gazette
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