During a press conference this afternoon, President of the Bermuda Industrial Union (B.I.U.) Chris Furbert revealed that he wrote a letter to the Honorable Premier David Burt on Thursday August 19.
The letter, written on behalf of the Union’s General Council, informed Premier Burt that if the Government did not make amendments to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidations) Act of 2021 within 11 days, the council will be calling for all Union members to go on a two-day work stoppage.
According to Mr. Furbert, the letter in question was sent only to Premier Burt, the Minister of Labour Jason Hayward, Government Whip Scott Simmons and PLP Chairwoman Dawn Simmons.
“ I was at the Union’s gas station getting gas on Saturday and I looked at the front page of the Royal Gazette; and it read ‘BIU Threatens General Strike,’” Mr. Furbert explained. “ I was amazed at how a reference to the B.I.U.’s letter [which was originally sent to only four people], got into the workers’ voice and into the media. Who gave the letter to the Gazette? That’s the $64,000 question.”
Despite the Royal Gazette stating that the BIU is calling for a general strike, Mr. Furbert wants to clarify that the general council is only calling for a two-day work stoppage on August 30 and 31. Once those two days are over, everyone will be going back to work.
“ It does not say a general strike in the original letter, it clearly states a two-day shutdown,” he said. “ There was a general strike in 1981 and we are not suggesting that we get back to that magnitude in Bermuda, where the entire country was shut down. That is what a general strike is.”
According to Mr. Furbert, the core of the current issue falls directly at the feet of the Minister of Labor the Honorable Jason Hayward, when he failed to respond to either of two largest unions in Bermuda back in December.
“ It should come as no surprise that because Minister Hayward stopped the ball in getting back to the Unions, we have this problem in front of us now,” Mr. Furbert said. “ Last week Thursday, we called Premier Burt to let him know that the President of the BIU, in front of five separate witnesses, left two messages on two separate cell phones for Minister Hayward. To date, we have not heard a word from him on the bus situation.”
The BIU intends to have a general council meeting on Wednesday to determine what next week’s industrial actions could look like and entail; as many union jobs are considered essential services. They will also be discussing what the next steps would be after August 31 if there is still no resolution reached between them and the Government.
“ Other unions might decide to do something else to support us [during next week Monday and/or Tuesday], but if they can’t sit down and protest with us, the BIU understands,” Mr. Furbert said. “But, whatever support they can give us will be much appreciated.”
TNN Reporter Stefano Ausenda
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