PLP Has Lost Their Way As A Labor Government Say BIU Leader Chris Furbert

During a press conference yesterday, the Minister of Transport the Honorable Lawrence Scott stated that, in relation to the current dispute between the Bermuda Industrial Union’s Bus Division and the Department of Public Transport (D.P.T.), the Government had met its obligations under Section 10 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

However, B.I.U. President Chris Furbert revealed during a press conference earlier today that he disagrees with Minister Scott on that position.

According to Chris Furbert, Union members met with D.P.T. management yesterday and today to try and resolve the dispute, but both meetings were unsuccessful. As a result, the buses remain downed today.

“ The Minister and the management want to force our members to accept something that they want, not the bus operators,” Mr. Furbert said. “ The management cannot decide to do something against the Collective Bargaining Agreement without our members’ approval.”
Industrial action was taken by the union yesterday morning over one main issue: the operators’ winter rosters, or lack thereof.

There are two sets of rosters that drivers use; a winter one, which is used from September until June and a summer one, which is used from June through August. As it stands, there are 93 summer rosters compared to 104 winter ones.

The summer rosters are scheduled to end during the week of September 5, with the new rosters commencing on Monday, September 6, just as school starts up again.

“ There shall be between two and four picks per year, one pick before the school summer holidays and another at the end of summer,’ ” Mr. Furbert read directly from the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“ Drivers should now be picking their winter work. But the management is saying that the winter work will be excluding school runs because they do not have the resources for that.”

According to BIU Bus Division President Antoine Wade, all the bus operators want to do is pick their winter rosters, which is what has been done almost every year since 1998, but the D.P.T. is unwilling to work with them on that.

“ We understand the situation that the government and the country is in right now, but we are working under some serious conditions,” Mr. Wade said. “ Let it be known that the supervisors prefer the winter rosters because it is easier to piece work together. The Government has made it clear that winter work is not an option.”

Mr. Furbert wants to make it clear that, even though operators would not be working as many hours during the winter roster, that is not the fault of the BIU or its members. Rather, a lack of buses and manpower is at the heart of the problem.

“ After promising to hire 24 new operators last year, the Department hired five and one quit,” he said. “ At the moment, we are short of at least 20 operators and between 40 and 50 buses. ”

Mr. Furbert believes that, due to successive governments’ failure to provide a sufficient amount of buses and operators that are required for proper service, the Minister of Labor will most likely defer the matter to arbitration soon.

“ Even though the Union does not often break the law, we might be pressed to do so in this circumstance, because we have the Collective Baraginig Agreement which clearly lays out what the management team should be doing to manage their workers,” he said. “ The PLP has lost their way as a labor government and they need to find their way back to labor.”
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