Workers Voice Withdraws From Media Council

January 29, 2013

[Updated with BIU response] The Workers Voice – which is published by the BIU — has decided to withdraw from the Media Council.

A statement issued by the Media Council today [Jan 29] said this was “in response to a letter from us to the BIU, reminding the Workers Voice of its obligation to publish a ruling by the Media Council.”

“We informed the BIU in our recent letter that failure to publish would force us to impose a sanction but the BIU has pre-empted any action we might have taken,” the Media Council said.

Last month Kentucky Fried Chicken Bermuda formally complained to the Media Council Working Group over a lack of apology from the Workers Voice [WV] newspaper following a Media Council ruling on June 2012 which directed the publication to print one.

In January 2012 the WV printed an opinion column by Alvin Williams. Following a complaint by KFC, the Media Council concluded that the article infringed on two clauses; containing an inaccuracy as well as the writer failing to “distinguish clearly between comment and conjecture and fact.”

The Media Council then directed the WV to publish a correction which was to state: “In our 30 January 2012 issue we published an article by Mr. Alvin Williams which stated that KFC made a recent attempt to decertify the union. That statement was inaccurate.”

In December 2012, KFC issued a statement saying since the date of the ruling, not less than five issues of the WV have been published, none of which appear to comply with the remedy directed by the Media Council.

In their reply last month, the Media Council Working Group said: “This is the first case we have dealt with in which a co-signatory to our Code of Practice has failed to comply with a Council ruling, so we are treading new ground.”

The full statement from the Media Council is below:

The Workers Voice has decided to withdraw from the Media Council of Bermuda organization.

We were informed about the decision in a letter from its publishers, the Bermuda Industrial Union.

This was in response to a letter from us to the BIU, reminding the Workers Voice of its obligation to publish a ruling by the Media Council.

In June 2012 the Media Council had ruled against the BIU and stipulated that the Workers Voice publish the following correction:

“In our 30 January 2012 issue we published an article by Mr. Alvin Williams which stated that KFC made a recent attempt to decertify the union. That statement was inaccurate.”

The correction has never been published.

We informed the BIU in our recent letter that failure to publish would force us to impose a sanction but the BIU has pre-empted any action we might have taken.

We regret the decision of the Workers Voice to withdraw, not least because we put a lot of effort into making the Media Council enterprise as inclusive as possible. Almost every media outlet on the island is involved, covering print, broadcast and web.

One of the main advantages of being associated with the Media Council is avoiding costly litigation. Also, we will be issuing media passes — and only members will qualify.

We acknowledged in a previous release that this issue has taken much longer for us to resolve than expected. One of the measures we have introduced to prevent such lengthy delays in future is to schedule fixed meetings of the Working Group every two months.

The Media Council was set up to curb media excesses and offer a free service through which disgruntled readers and viewers can settle complaints. We stand by our commitment to this service and, despite the unfortunate outcome in this case, believe strongly that the Media Council is a valuable and necessary force for good.

In another press release to follow later this week, we will announce some changes in personnel, including new members for the Media Council following moves overseas by two incumbents.

Update 5.05pm: The BIU responded to the above statement, saying they withdrew “under protest” as they were threatened with expulsion. They said that due to pending litigation between the BIU and KFC they requested that the Media Council hold of making a decision until the completion of the court case, which the Media Council was not willing to do.

The full statement from the BIU follows below:

The Workers Voice withdrew its membership with the Media Council of Bermuda under protest as a result of it having been threatened with expulsion from the Media Foundation, the organization under whose umbrella the Media Council Operates, by the Chairman of the Media Council.

The reason for the expulsion threat was because of the Worker’s Voice’s refusal to correct a comment made by Alvin Williams in the January 30, 2012 issue of the Workers Voice. The BIU has sought legal advice on the issue of the threat of expulsion and questions the basis upon which the Media Council could take such action.

Taking into account the rules and the code of conduct adhered to by all members of the Media Council, it is not clear whether there is any power to expel a member for the reasons the Media Council has threatened to expel the Worker’s Voice or at all.

The BIU has seen the press release from Mr Mcwilliam on behalf of the Media Council and wishes to add the following context. In a letter to Tony Mcwilliam on January 22, 2013, BIU President, Chris Furbert wrote:

The BIU has therefore decided to withdraw from the Media Council, rather than be expelled. This decision has not been taken lightly, but as I explained to you in our meeting of October 19, 2012, there is pending litigation between the Bermuda Industrial Union and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) regarding the matter of certification, and at that time I requested that the Media Council hold of making a decision until the completion of the court case. However, it is apparent that neither KFC nor the Media Council was willing to acquiesce to our request.

It is not simply a case of the BIU resigning because it has not gotten its own way, rather, the BIU requested that the Media Council apply the rules fairly and that it take into account the fact that the matters its ruling spoke to concern an ongoing Supreme Court dispute between the BIU and KFC.

The Media Council refused to accede to this reasonable request and decided instead to forge ahead with its “sanction” despite the ongoing legal sensitivity surrounding the dispute between KFC and BTU.

The BIU also regrets that the matter has had to be resolved in this manner. We do not understand the reluctance on the part of the Media Council to respect the Court process, however, for the sake of its members, and in the best interest of the ongoing litigation between the BIU and KFC which is scheduled to come on for hearing next month, we have determined the best course of action is to resign from the Media Council under protest.

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  1. Media Council Appoints Two New Members | Bernews.com | February 7, 2013
  1. Logic says:

    de cracks are starting to appear….

  2. Watcher says:

    isnt that the great defenders publication?? Hasn’t she been quiet recently now that she doesnt have the bully pulpit anymore

  3. Nuffin but de Truth! says:

    Workers Voice was only good for lining my friend’s parrot cage who loved pooping all over it!

    now we need to see the biu and plp withdraw from everything,
    bunch of relics and dinosaurs.

    • ella says:

      OH my dear! You have me squawking right now. Just love it. Thank you. I needed a laugh today. BUT ON A SERIOUS NOTE – THANK YOU!!! Could not have worded it any better!! Tee Hee HAHA

      • Nuffin but de Truth! says:

        ella,
        I am so happy I made your day!
        and you don’t have to Thank me,
        I type Nuffin but de Truth!

  4. More Confused says:

    Had the BIU published the apology in the WV only a few people would have read it or known about it. Now anyone who reads Bernews and the RG have read the apology, and why it was required, several times.
    Now the BIU throws a tantrum and leaves the organisation that they and their admin staff were instrumental in calling for. No doubt they didn’t think they would be subject to its rules, let alone be the first and only to be scolded by the Council.

    • Eastern says:

      @ more confused:

      Did I miss something here. I quote: “Now anyone who reads Bernews and the RG have read the apology” What apology are you talking about? The Workers Voice has still not apologized

      • Ringmaster says:

        I think what “more confused” is saying is that the Media Council has said what the apology, or in their words correction should say. That is quoted above in their statement which also includes the comments that the Council found to be incorrect. The statement has also been carried several times over the past few months, so the whole matter has been aired in public.

    • Justine says:

      I agree with you @more confused. If I’m honest I would never have heard of this story had the BIU just published the apology, I certainly don’t and won’t read the Workers Voice.

  5. King Jammys says:

    BIU is not worried about its obligation to publish a ruling by the Media Council nor its financials……
    Vere is de munney?

  6. O.B. says:

    LOL WOW! Some of the main people calling for fair media (and criticising the RG) were part of the BIU. Now they don’t want it. And these are the people that want to run a country. SMH

  7. Winnie Dread says:

    What is good for the Goose is good for the ……, Fair is …., Wrong is ….. ok,ok you get my drift. How can one call for, help to formulate, received a body then as soon as the body is doing what it was formed for, one jumps ship. Wow really WV, what about standing up for fairness and accuracy in Journalism, I guess it only applies if the directive was aimed at any of he other media houses,geez.

  8. Not surprising at all! That’s the type of mentality people like Alvin Williams have. The words “I am sorry” or “I was wrong” just don’t exist in their very small vocabulary.

    As far as the so called WV is concerned this refusal speaks volumes and takes away what little, and I mean very little, credibility they still had.

  9. Bermy Gooner says:

    So the BIU refuses to comply with the legislation mandating the issuance of annual audited financials and now refuses to abide by the same rules that they pushed for when Dr. Brown was in power. They also conduct illegal wildcat strikes and fail to abide by the CBA with employers.

    But this is the same organization that demands employers follow their side of the CBA to the letter, “or else?”

    Do as I say and not as I do once again with these lot.

    And yet you demand respect from the public?

    Get over yourselves, seriously…

  10. Argosy says:

    Good ridance to them.

  11. hehe says:

    aka LaVerne’s Voice

  12. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    Somebody correct me if I am wrong, but what it sounds like the BIU is saying is they want to wait to see if “the pending litigation between the Bermuda Industrial Union and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) regarding the matter of certification” works out in their favor then they wouldn’t have to apologize at all.
    If that is the case, they have missed the point. At the time the article was published, Mr. Williams had no basis for his assertion that KFC was trying to decertify the union. Even if what he said was true, at the time the article was published it was only his opinion and that should have been clearly indicated.

    @ Watcher: Ms. F. has been on the RG blog complaining about misleading headlines, although the attached articles make the facts clear. I am guessing she has been trying to make a case for the RG to be sanctioned too. Not working, my girl!

  13. 32n64w says:

    I guess the PLP, BIU and WV are the new combined opposition. :-)

    • Alvin Williams says:

      The Truth is an offence-Bob Marley- and so it seeks to remain in this country-Alvin Williams

      • 32n64w says:

        “It is not simply a case of the BIU resigning because it has not gotten its own way”

        Alvin – perhaps I missed something, but wasn’t the WV a former member of the Media Council and not the BIU?

        Are they infant interchangeable?

        • 32n64w says:

          “In fact” not infant. But the irony of apple’s autocorrect feature is rich, no?

  14. street wise says:

    Can you imagine how indignant LaVerne would have been if another media outlet had decided to quit the Council!! We never would have heard the end of it from Bermuda’s No. 1 angry plp hypocrite!

    Anger is non-acceptance of the moment. Thought you’d like to know that.

  15. Barracuda says:

    who gives a flying fu#@

  16. jt says:

    Who cares?

  17. bermuda boy says:

    Instead of paying union dues, donate the funds to the Sunshine league. The children need it more than chris or laverne. How much do they earn anyway.