As the Union representing a significant number of Public Officers, it was disturbing to the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU) to learn that on February 3, 2023, a current Government MP took to the floor of the House of Assembly to accuse Government employees of engaging in “threatening” and “shameful” behaviour, and “making policies as they go”.

He further asserted that Public Officers were unjustly “penalizing” members of the public, thinking that “they are in charge – even of the minister” and “above the Ministry and the Government”.

On Thursday, February 9, 2023, these allegations then became Royal Gazette’s front page headline news; providing fodder to further promote the negative narrative regarding the integrity of Bermuda’s Public Officers.

Far be it for the BPSU to get into a dispute with a former President of our Sister Union and Bermuda’s only local newspaper, however, as representatives of Public Officers, it would be remiss of this Union not to address the matter.

For decades, Public Officers have been stigmatized as being inept, lazy, arrogant, overpaid, etc. What many fail to realize is that Public Sector employees are governed by their terms and conditions of employment, and are required to adhere to various laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.

For example, the Bermuda Government’s Conditions of Employment and Code of Conduct is clear on the standard of behavior expected of Public Officers:

“The role of Public Officers is to assist the duly elected Government of Bermuda with integrity, impartiality and objectivity regardless of any personal political affiliation by providing fair, timely, efficient and effective service, continually improving the quality of policies, programmes, and services they provide…..”

There is a well-established process by which complaints against Public Officers are to be submitted and handled. Public Officers accused of violating their terms and conditions of employment are subject to the prescribed investigation and disciplinary process. What should not happen, however, is the wide-sweeping vilification of Public Officers in the House of Assembly and in the press. This approach violates the principals of natural justice and serves no meaningful purpose.

While the BPSU understands that salacious headlines sells papers and triggers widespread public banter, what often goes undiscussed and under-reported, is the fact that many Public Officers are:
• overworked due to long-standing staff shortages,
• often lack the resources and tools needed to carry out their remit,
• frequently operate in poor working conditions, and,
• have gone years without a cost-of-living adjustment.

Public Officers play a vital role in delivering services to the community, and, on a positive note, the BPSU is thrilled to see Government’s recognition of the value of our membership through its Public Service Excellence Awards initiative. These awards are given to Public Officers for their ability to demonstrate leadership, efficiency, and exceptional service delivery within their work environments and to the public at large.

The BPSU has worked hard to develop, maintain, and promote productive, respectful working relationships with community stakeholders including Government and the press. The Union encourages these same stakeholders to do the same.

The BPSU Mission Statement is to Promote Effective Labour and Community Relations.

Onward and Upward Together

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