During a press conference this afternoon, Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert revealed that, had the B.I.U. and the B.P.S.U. not had an important joint press conference on December 10, 2020, the day before the Trade Union and Labor Relations (Consolidation) Act was brought to the House of Assembly to be discussed, the original version of the bill, which according to Mr. Furbert would have affected Union members even more negatively than the current bill does, would have passed and became law.
“ The bill that would have become law before the joint press conference [on December 10], would have meant that non-union members would have been able to initiate a ballot for Union decertification,” Mr. Furbert explained. “ Had we not stepped in with that joint press conference, all non-union members would have initiated decertification.”
According to Mr. Furbert, the non-union members that the Government are trying to protect by not amending Section 57 of the aforementioned Act, despite multiple requests by the BIU to do so, would be the ones who, in his opinion, never wanted a union in the first place and certainly “do not want the current government to be the government.”
“ The bill in 1998 was created by the UBP . . . to weaken labor’s position in the workplace,” he said. “ Based on amendments to the Act that we gave to Minister Hayward, we asked him to reconsider 57 (1) and 57 (a) to include the words, ‘ . . . who are members of the Union in good standing,’ and they are telling us that they cannot do that . . . Government is behaving like there has never been a situation where an amendment had to be made to any bill.”
Mr. Furbert added that the BIU will never agree to a worker in a bargaining unit who only pays 50 percent being able to vote in a ballot for decertification, under any circumstances.
“ Where we stand is on a solid foundation; so it is very disingenuous for people to say that they do not believe an organization that will soon be celebrating 75 years of representing organized labor,” he said.
“ The Government needs to accept the fact that the Ministry of Labor dropped the ball on this issue.”
If the Government called the BIU within the next hour asking to meet and negotiate with them, the Union would be willing to meet with them at any time. If the Government chooses to not make any amendments at all to the Act, however, the Union has not ruled out taking the issue to Court as well as weekly protests starting the week of September 13.
In Friday’s Royal Gazette, Premier Burt said that he is perfectly willing to meet and negotiate with the Union. However, Mr. Furbert refuses to accept a meeting invitation that was through the media. If Premier Burt wants to meet with the Union, he should arrange to do so through the proper avenues, such as a phone call, email or letter, not through a newspaper article.
“ The BIU has a letter prepared for the Premier. For the interest of the people of this country, the B.I.U. is asking to come back to the table to resolve this issue,” he said. “ The letter will go to the Premier some time this afternoon.”
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