[Updated with video + The Supreme Court granted an injunction preventing a planned work stoppage by the Post Office staff, with a clause in place so if the Postal Workers strike on Monday the BIU will be penalised]
Members of the Postal Division have downed tools to express their disagreement with a fellow worker being fired.
The dispute was over a postal worker who was charged with criminal offences — but never convicted — and was subsequently fired. BIU President Chris Furbert maintains that the individual should have been reinstated after being cleared.
Video of Mr Furbert’s statement:
A statement from the BPO said, “The employee’s termination was unrelated to the criminal proceedings. After a thorough investigation of the matter, the employee was found to have violated the Post Office policies and postal regulations governing his employment resulting in the disappearance of a mail package that was in his possession from the mail system.”
The BPO also noted that the BIU has “demanded an unconditional guarantee that its members will not be terminated for losing mail,” which the BPO said “would not be in the interest of the public.”
This is one of two industrial disputes brewing, with hospital auxiliary nurses also threatening to take industrial action over pay issues.
The full statement from the BPO is below:
“The Bermuda Post Office [BPO] regrets the current impasse between the BPO management and the Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU]. However, the safety and security of the postal system is paramount to Bermuda’s reputation for economic and social stability and for public security and safety. It therefore is expected that all persons who are employed by the BPO to process and deliver mail items will conduct themselves with the highest level of integrity and diligence.
“To be fair to all BPO employees, and for clarity, the BPO management advises the public that postal workers customarily conduct themselves with the highest degree of integrity and professionalism. In this instance an employee was terminated approximately two years ago because a package was loaded into his van and disappeared from his possession.
“The employee was found to have gone off the established delivery route and the package disappeared from his possession at that time. The BIU’s position is that since the employee was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to import cannabis into Bermuda; he should be reinstated by the Post Office. This is a misconception on the part of the BIU. The employee’s termination was unrelated to the criminal proceedings.
“After a thorough investigation of the matter, the employee was found to have violated the Post Office policies and postal regulations governing his employment resulting in the disappearance of a mail package that was in his possession from the mail system.
It was and remains the position of the BPO that this infraction served to undermine the public trust in the security of the Post Office and it brought the Bermuda Government into disrepute. It was and remains the BPO’s opinion that this infraction constituted Gross Misconduct and the employee was rightfully terminated in accordance to the provisions as set out in the BIU Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA].
“In addition to the reinstatement of the terminated employee, the BIU has demanded an unconditional guarantee that its members will not be terminated for losing mail. The BPO believes that it would not be in the interest of the public, the reputation of BPO employees or the security of the Bermuda postal sector for the BPO management to not investigate allegations of postal and work place infractions as outlined in the Bermuda Postal regulations and to address them in accordance the established due processes as set out in the BIU CBA.
“The BPO management does not believe that all avenues under the BIU CBA have been exhausted and has requested that the BIU refer this matter to arbitration. To date the BIU has declined this request. The BPO values the working relationships with its union partners and is hopeful that despite the current impasse that sound reasoning will prevail.
“The Bermuda Post Office apologizes to the public for any inconvenience that this impasse has caused. The public is advised that the BPO does have contingency plans in place to minimize the disruption and to ensure that the public will continue to be able to access its mail.”
Update 7.48pm: Attorney General Mark Pettingill said that the Government has been granted an injunction by the Supreme Court preventing a planned work stoppage by Bermuda Post Office staff.
There is a Penal Clause in place, so if the Postal Workers go on strike on Monday the BIU will be penalised.
Minister Pettingill said the Exparte application was made jointly by the AG’s Chambers and the Ministry of Home Affairs but the Bermuda Industrial Union was notified of the application.
The Attorney General’s chambers argued that the Post Office constituted an Essential Service and the judge agreed and granted the application for an injunction.
Minister Pettingill said: “As the Government works to reinvigorate Bermuda’s economy and provide jobs, we and indeed the country cannot afford wild cat strikes that disrupt our economy. We will use whatever legal powers are available to prevent such actions.