At around 4:15 on Wednesday afternoon , Bermuda Industrial Union ( B.I.U.) President Chris Furbert received a call from Transport Minister the Honorable Lawrence Scott, JP, MP, requesting to sit down with the Union and get the bus situation dealt with and resolved.
After over two hours of deliberation, the two parties reached a tentative agreement, which was ratified by BIU members yesterday afternoon.
“ It was agreed that the winter rosters will be posted as of Monday, August 23 and also that a team of five senior operators will be assembled to propose some changes to the summer roster,” Mr. Furbert said.
The winter roster is scheduled to come into effect on Monday, September 13. If they cannot agree on an altered summer roster by October 13, then operators will be reverting back to the summer rosters until March 31 next year, which will mark the end of the government’s fiscal period.
Despite the B.I.U reaching an agreement with the Department of Public Transport, Union brothers Eugene Ball Jr. and Antoine Wade, President and Vice President of the Bus Division respectively, were told in a meeting with Minister Scott yesterday that what had initially been agreed to had been taken off of the table, because some operations managers and supervisors did not want to do the winter rosters.
As a result, Mr. Furbert was told by Minister Scott that the agreement which had been reached had now been terminated. However, Mr. Furbert reminded the Minister that it could not be terminated since it had already been ratified.
“ The issue on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was between the B.I.U and the management team at D.P.T. Respectfully, it had nothing to do with the supervisors,” Mr. Furbert said. “ If [ the D.P.T] knew that the supervisors had to agree to the agreement and they dropped the ball, then that is not on the BPSU or the BIU; that is on them . . .
Where we sit, our issue has been resolved.”
Despite the agreement being recently resolved and ratified, according to Mr. Furbert, the B.I.U. received a letter from Labor Minister the Honorable Jason Hayward informing them that the matter had been referred to arbitration.
Mr. Furbert said that, while Union members do not usually get paid if they choose to withdraw their services, if the dilemma was created by a management team (which it was in this situation), then the Union is justified in requesting some pay. While he did not share how much pay bus operators received during the industrial action, he did confirm that there was an agreement on payment and they did not lose three whole days’ pay.
Mr. Furbert believes that the D.P.T. is facing two major issues; a lack of buses and a lack of operators.
“ If we have [a sufficient number of both], that will make our jobs a lot easier,” he said. “ They will not be telling the public that ten buses are cancelled today, 25 are cancelled tomorrow and 20 are cancelled the next day. The reason for all these cancellations comes down to a lack of buses.”
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