No 21 Day Strike Notice – 72 Hours

February 14, 2011

After much discussion about a possible agreement in which 21 days notice would be given by the BIU before going on strike, officials confirmed today [Feb 14] that the notice expected was 72 hours.

After previously carrying a statement referencing the BIU breaking an agreement to give 21 days notice before any industrial action, the PLP website updated with this statement today: “For several days, this space contained a statement recalled by the Bermuda Government. The original statement contained an error. The original agreement called for 48-72 hours of advance notice prior to an industrial action, not 21 days. We regret the error. The labour dispute was resolved and the buses are back on the road.”

On the second day of the bus strike last week, BIU President Chris Furbert said the notice expected was 72 hours and not 21 days: “I need to set the record straight. I got an email that was sent out by the Department of Communications saying when the Government forgave the BIU for the bond, the BIU would give 21 days notice before we had any industrial action.That was totally ludicrous.”

“What the Premier of the country said then, that was Dr Ewart Brown, is that if the BIU has some issues, can you give us at least 72 hours before you have any kind of industrial action. We said under normal circumstances we would try and honour that request. So I don’t know where this 21 days come from. But it was never a question of giving 21 days notice before taking industrial action.”

Checking with a Government official they stated: “The original statement sent on Wednesday, February 9th at 6 p.m. which referred to 21 days notification of a strike was incorrect. A revised statement sent on Wednesday, February 9th at 6.04 pm was the correct statement but did not mention any specific time frame for notice of strike action.”

“The agreement made between the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) on May 14, 2009 called for the BIU to give up to 72 hours notice of a strike in return for the Government forgiving Union Assets Holding’s obligation to pay $6.8 million owed under a performance bond due when the Berkeley school project failed,” concluded the Government spokesperson.

It is unclear what notice, if any, was given prior to last week’s strike by bus operators in support of a fired colleague.

On December 14, 2007 a final award was granted to the Bermuda Government by the tribunal in the arbitration proceeding between the Government of Bermuda and Pro-Active Management Systems Inc. in the matter of the construction of the Berkeley Institute in the amount of $15.6 million.

The award was comprised of a judgement granted of $13.2 million and reimbursement of legal costs of $2.4 million. The award was finalised in September, 2008 after initially being appealed by Pro-Active.

In the year prior the Government’s Consolidated Fund accrued a receivable of $15.6 million. An $8.8 million provision for uncollectibility of the award was also recorded which was the net of the total award less a performance bond of $6.8 million issued by Union Assets Holding Ltd.

The performance bond was secured by assets and other resources owned by the Bermuda Industrial Union. It had been determined it was unlikely Government would receive any satisfaction from ProActive given that the company had been represented to be insolvent.

Subsequently the Bermuda Government forgave the performance bond of $6.8 million with Union Asset Holdings. The Auditor General recorded the full receivable of $15.6 million and the respective 100 percent allowance were written off. Bad debt expense of $6.8 million was recorded in the operations for the fiscal year 2009.

At the time the performance bond debt was forgiven then Premier Dr Ewart Brown said the decision was in the best interests of both the union and the country — but he added taxpayers wanted to know they could rely “on the members of the BIU to deliver the services they have been hired to carry out. They want to know that bus drivers will pick up their children, that garbage crews will haul their waste and that engineering crews will fix their streets.”

” … We believe unions are the lifeblood of our community,” said Dr. Brown. “They too must be strong and stable. I am firmly confident that this decision reinforces the strength and stability of the BIU and protects our economy from a further threat.

” This Government is a Government elected by the people to make decisions. There may be some who do not like this decision but a decimated and weak Union does not benefit any country. Bermuda has vital organizations of all kinds and just because one is grassroots does not make it any less worthy of preserving.

“The blue collar is as much a badge of honour as the white collar. What we do today says that Court Street and Front Street are connected by more than just a pedestrian crossing.

“Now a word to the members of the union and my friend Chris Furbert… Today’s announcement ends a long and arduous process both for the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Government of Bermuda. As I said earlier, the performance bond resolution is mutually beneficial and in the best interest of the country.

“However, the taxpayers of Bermuda have a very simple demand in all of this. They want to know that they can rely on the members of the BIU to deliver the services they have been hired to carry out. They want to know that bus drivers will pick up their children, that garbage crews will haul their waste and that engineering crews will fix their streets. That is all taxpayers want – confidence in Government services.

“If our two organisations can come to a joint resolution on this matter, one of the most complex we have ever contemplated… then surely we can fix whatever issue has upset you in your workplace. If you have a problem let’s talk like grown ups before downing tools like something less than adults. Why not come to the table before rushing to a picket line? Whatever the problem in your workplace let’s find a resolution together before we inconvenience the public. That is what taxpayers want. And I hasten to add, it is at least what taxpayers deserve.”

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Comments (33)

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  1. Sarah says:

    This is so stupid.

  2. Call as it is says:

    Some people have very short memories when it suits them…

  3. Pitts Bay says:


    It appears that the BIU has agreed and aknowledged that they do in fact need to give at least 72 (3 days) notice of an intention to go on strike.

    As it appears that they have not done that (although I will admit we don’t have all the facts), can the Government now change its mind too?

    I bet the Premier could do with that $6.8M with the Budget coming up on Friday

  4. What is going on? says:

    72 hours…… o.k. they still broke the agreement, so let the taxpayer call in the $6.8 million that is owed them……or was the agreement a sham and it’s business as usual

  5. Truth says:

    ……….whether it was 21 days or 72 hours is irrelevant to the next point. The BIU didn’t give ANY notice before striking. ….which is still illegal according to the agreement. The fact that the government forgave 6.8M in debt that the BIU could not pay, there should have been something in the agreement fo breach of contract I.e. the performance bond becomes payable if the agreement is not adhered to.

    Without repercussions, contracts in and of themselves are meaningless.

  6. Real Talk says:

    21 days… 72 hours… Either way it didn’t happen. For a bunch who appear to be sticklers for ‘proper procedure’, it certainly appears that the Union did not follow ‘proper procedure’ when it came to resolving this conflict.

  7. 26 says:

    So if 72 hrs.s was agreed on why did we not get it?

  8. itwasn'tme says:


  9. Sandgrownan says:

    So, they’re not only all incompetent they’re liars too.

    Doesn’t look like good value for our 6.8 million does it? Can we have it back please?

    You couldn’t make this up.

  10. gms says:

    “What the Premier of the country said then, that was Dr Ewart Brown, is that if the BIU has some issues, can you give us at least 72 hours before you have any kind of industrial action. We said under normal circumstances we would try and honour that request.”

    Let me guess. When it comes to the prospect of industrial action, there will never be normal circumstances.

  11. Phillip Wells says:

    Perhaps you could contact Chris Furbert and Terry Lister and ask them when notice of the strike was given. Doesn’t seem to me like they even gave 24 hours notice, let alone 72.

    Also, has Mr. Furbert explained why he ignored the Gazette Extraordinary that the Government filed requiring the drivers to return to work immediately? The Labour Disputes Act seems pretty clear about that. If the BIU are not going to follow the law, what chance of them following an “agreement”?

  12. LOL (original) says:

    So what have we learned from this? If it is not in writing it does not count! Simple thank you “Great One” another stich in your legacy. So does that mean that the Government’s forgiveness for the Bond was also not in writing?


  13. Observer of BDA says:

    The Governement should make the union pay for the disruption they caused by the strike they had with no notice.
    Once again a double standard has been shown.
    Well done!!

  14. 32n64w says:

    “It is unclear what notice, if any, was given prior to last week’s strike by bus operators in support of a fired colleague.”

    I think we all know the answer to that: none, zip, nil, ninguno, nessuno.

    And as is the case with virtually any other matter relating to this Government and the concept of accountability …. nothing will be done about it.

  15. Sarah says:

    Not that it matters to anyone involved or the powers that be, but to those of us at the bus station, it seemed clear that NO ONE knew what was going on, so their ~72 hours~ notice was never communicated to AT LEAST the bus depot workers.
    No one is coming out of this looking credible.

  16. Just Wondering says:

    Okay so its not 21 day but 72 hours which is three days, so my question is whats happens to them now? cause there was no three day warning they still broke the agreement.

  17. crazytalk says:

    They’re all over the place aren’t they.

    First, Ewart Brown said, at the point the $7m was forgiven, that in return the BIU promised 21 days notice prior to strikes.

    Second, on Feb 10 the PLP website (linked in the article) said the ‘PLP Government’ stated that there is 21 days notice required. Note .. the ‘PLP Government’.

    Then, after 3 or 4 days of strongly resisting the union, overnight Lister climbs down and does what the BIU says.

    Then, we come to find there apparently is no 21 days notice requirement.

    It’s impossible to understand what is going on. I’d like to ask the PLP Government:
    1. What, exactly, was agreed in return for the foregiveness of the $7m?
    2. Why was the PLP Government under the impression there was 21 days notice requirement, if that is not the case?
    3. What exactly transpired to make the Government climb down last Friday on such a clear-cut issue, where the BIU was clearly in the wrong? What facts are being withheld from the public? Why does the BIU seem to have so much unrectricted power in this?

    • Sarah says:

      Good questions. I’m sure certain people in the PLP are still watching this story like hawks, it would be nice to hear something from someone. We know at least one of them comes by….

  18. Scott says:

    quite the fiasco goin on lately…

    … you dont just mistype “21 days” when trying to write “72 hours”…

  19. rubber bong says:

    is there a reason why you haven’t continued to cover the PAC inquiry into the tendering of the TCD building? you have done good to cover this story but the royal gazette has covered other stories pertaining to this same issue but you have seemed to have dropped coverage. the people of bermuda deserve to hear what is happening with our money. the accountant general has said some pretty alarming things and i’m very surprised that you have not shared that with us… bernews has made its name and won credibility by carrying the good the bad and the ugly so please do not change now.

    • rubber bong says:

      i thank you for what you do and i’m sure the rest of the island does too but i was just wondering if there was a specific reason that story was left out as it seemed such a high profile story, especially given the state of the economy. hope you are able to get a break at some point…

      • bernews says:

        @Rubber Bong – again its just logistics, that is the exact reason we miss many things. Different things are important to different people, so what we try and do is touch on as much as we can – 20 different sports, politics, history, crime, etc.

    • Sarah says:

      Is there anything that someone like those of us who comment here could do to help? I really like what you do, and I would love to see it grow, so if a random internet person could do anything..

      • bernews says:

        Thanks Sarah! Trust me we will take all the help we can get. In fact, we would not have come this far without all the help from our readers. Comments help, sending in stories/pics etc, emailing if you spot a typo [readers are our proofreaders lol]…

    • Um just sayin says:


      Bernews, I think you are doing an excellent job!! Keep up the good work. Your news is current, you are continuously updating your articles and provide service well into the evening/night when other advertisers do not. You advertise the latest news articles before any other advertisers do. You were the first to provide “speak your mind” services, where we are able to express ourselves about any given topic.

      There is no need to defend yourself. As a regular reader of your pages, I am very pleased with your work.

      If someone has a problem, they should seek other advertising pages.

      Well done

  20. The truth shall set you free says:

    Well, the 72 hour period wasn’t honored either,soooooo

  21. Robert Bryce says:

    So the PLP website is more than ready to place an announcement made by the “PLP” Government (see photo scan) regarding agreements, but when it turns out it the announcement is untrue they retract the same announcement by saying the “Bermuda” Government (see statement). What spin masters and liars the PLP shows itself to be.

  22. sandgrownan says:

    Come on Chris…tell us who the real “owners” or beneficiaries of UAH are? We know the government let them off the hook. Wonder how your members would react to finding out it was never for their benefit? How about displaying some of your principles.

    That missing money would go a long way to helping Cog balance the budget huh?

  23. Goose says:

    Labour Relations Act, 1975
    Sections 34,37

    Were the Government to grow a pair during this fiasco:

    Furbert would be facing prosecution with the chance of 2 years incarceration.

    The shop stewards would be fined.

    The union would be fined.

    The performance bond would be recalled as not even 72 hours notice was given.

    We’d be without bus and possibly ferry service for about a month. With the performance bond recalled and a hefty fine levvied against the union their kitty would be pretty empty. That means limited financial support for the strikers. They’d eventually break.

    Public transport would make the list of essential services specified in the Act.

    The 6.8mil could have gone towards running a severely limited service using minibus operators and the like. It would be inconvinient for a spell, but eventually rent and utilities would be due and one by one the drivers would have to return to work. In calling a snap strike over a justified dismissal the union really did invite themselves to be broken Thatcher-style. Instead Lister takes a much softer approach in trying to stick to his guns regarding the dismissal, and has his legs cut out from under him. Bully boy tactics by the union rewarded once more. Pathetic.

  24. Sandgrownan says:

    It’s because Furbert knows where the bodies are buried.

  25. Christopher says:

    Exactly Goose, the Labour Relations Act, 1975. There are laws the PLP should be enforcing, and they are not. Does this mean that we do not have to pay attention to any of the other numerous Acts that pertain to our country? They way the government is behaving, the Acts mean nothing. The way I see it, the Labour Relations Act gives the government the ammo it needs to take down the Monster called Union. MAN UP PLP!!!!!!
    Then again, It’s only a “Cog in the Wheel” as the Head of this country, So why would we expect Her or anyone else to actually do something about this atrocity.

  26. Christopher says:

    If the PLP does not enforce the Labour Relations Act, AS THEY SHOULD. How do we go about FIRING/IMPEACHING/DISBANDING the PLP for Failure to Complete their job? IS THERE NO ACCOUNTABILITY? Is the PLP full of spineless individuals who don’t even understand their job? I am so confused. How can a government behave this way?