BTUC Responds To SAGE Commission Report

November 22, 2013

[Updated with video] The Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] said they “will not stand helplessly by whilst systematic work-related injustices and bare-faced anti-labour policies are subtly injected back into our society under the guise of making collective sacrifices.”

This statement was made at a press conference this morning [Nov 22], which the BTUC held to respond to the recent SAGE Report, which recommended a raft of cost cutting measures including raising the retirement age to 68, reducing the House of Assembly from 36 to 30 seats and closing all post offices but three and reducing staff.

Speaking this morning, the BTUC said, “The SAGE report mentions a glide pathway that balances hardships and headaches with healing and stability.

“Our initial review of the report submitted by the SAGE Commission is that it is a minute step in the right direction. However, collectively, the Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] cannot and will not stand helplessly by whilst systematic work-related injustices and bare-faced anti-labour policies are subtly injected back into our society under the guise of making collective sacrifices.


The BTUC continued, “This report purports to provide economic and social remedies for the fiscal challenges in which Bermuda has found itself. If this SAGE Report bears good fruit, then Bermuda will become a better place for all Bermudians.

“Yet it appears that preferential option is given to debt reduction without holistically addressing the poverty/wealth gap of entrenched structural inequality for workers.

“The SAGE Report calls for collective sacrifices. However, if we are not careful, we will produce a nimble government and a down-trodden population. The recommendations require job losses, wage freezes, pension contribution increases, and cost of living increases.

“We are unclear about the degree to which these governmental job losses, resources, privatization and outsourcing will compromise, roll back, or undercut the benefits of higher wages/better working conditions and improved quality of life for all Bermudians that the Unions have had to fight so gallantly to obtain and to protect.

“The SAGE Report raises a crucial question about our collective wisdom and core values. This is not just symbolic, but it is fundamental to our market economy and the integrity of our collective lives. How do we go about achieving sustained prosperity in the broadest social interest of all Bermudians?

“How does Bermuda enact equitable laws and regulations so that individual interest and corporate interests tied to imperfect market mechanisms do not stifle out innovative spirit, sense of cultural commonality to protect all Bermudians’ quality of life.

“Although leadership accountability is critical for sustainable social good, governments are not businesses and cannot be governed strictly by economic cost-benefit analyses that drive corporations.

“A sustainable and successful Bermuda must be founded on humane and prosperous ideas including caring for “the least of these” in our society and delivering services of quality health, competitive education, and life-affirming critical social services that demands not merely fiscal tightness.

“The Bermuda Trade Union Congress cannot take for granted that the Government is committed to these principles that will drastically roll back Union gains, especially in light of our history and fiscal trajectory, then we will be left with no other alternative but to explore all options to fight retroactive measures of harm to all workers.”

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Comments (69)

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  1. CBA says:

    Do the Unions think that the OBA enjoys making cuts? Think about it. If there are cuts, the people are unhappy and won’t vote for OBA. But this is what is needed!!!!! There’s no money!!!!

    • Mazumbo says:

      That’s what they say(it aint no money ) but de records show different ,who’s foolin who.

      • Hmmmmm says:

        Those weren’t official audited accounts.
        It was more like a Variable cost analysis. Wait until the Salaries of other staff there, management fees and Overheads get charged.

      • Passive Aggressif says:

        Yup if we could just turn back time and get some of the Berkeley / Proactive money back, or T-Street Scandal money, or TCD money, or Bda Emissions money, Mariah Carey and others concert money or , the manys trips on taxpayers dollaars money and so on

        • mixitup says:

          Turn it back even further and you’ll have a treasure trove!

    • Robert says:

      Soooo, money before people ?!!!! Please enlighten me ! !!!

      • Hmmmmm says:

        People always first…but as proven, this is a cuts and bruises type clinic. If we continue to waste money on it, then we have less to use at the hospital in providing the lifesaving care we need. So closing it IS PEOPLE FIRST……

        Sadly the PLP turned this into a POLITICS FIRST. PEOPLE have no place in their agenda.

        See the quotes from the house

  2. ann says:

    The Sage report is the only intelligent piece I have read in the paper for monthes. I am so tired of having to support ALL the folks in Civil Service whom recieve as many or more perks than any CEO I have ever met. Down size them and maybe they will begin to work like the rest of the world!

    • Robert says:

      Dont forget ann, civil servants pay the same taxes as you, morons !!!!

      • Ringmaster says:

        Civil servants return tax derived from the private sector that they have received as salaries. Their taxes do not add to revenue. They may as well be paid net of tax.

  3. East Ender says:

    They just dont get it do they?
    Bermuda Inc. has been sinking rapidly and now some people with highly regarded business backgrounds make serious recommendations about what really needs to be done to turn the government side of business around and now they don’t like it.
    Sorry guys the friends and family days are over and Bermuda Inc. can no longer sustain itself unless these changes are made, unless you are planning to have all of us living in a 3rd world country.
    Privatization of some of the government services will be a good thing and we will see more accountability with it, unlike what we have seen before.

    • Robert says:

      Bermuda inc was a concept dreamed up by rich white men, david saul, sir david gibbons and the like, so do not go there !!!!

      • Robert says:

        Sensorship at its best !!!!

        • Hmmmmm says:

          You would rather we don’t have electricity, cars, airconditioning, TV, a constant exodus of Bermudian achivers to other economies. Hey we can all go back to fishing for our supper and a barter system.

          Robert, you are full of it. Nobody dream’t anything up, opportunities to bring investment to Bermuda existed, they were followed and everyone made a living from those dollars. the only other dollars being made are tourists and business visitors. Bermuda doesn’t make much else originated from Bermuda resources.

  4. Blue Familiar says:

    I think this is a perfectly reasonable response to the SAGE Report.

    It’s important for all parties to take a close interest in the situation to make certain that the outcome is as balanced as it can possibly be so that we all can benefit, and, regrettably, bear the burden, not just one portion of society.

    • Hmmmm says:

      private sector already done alot of suffering, ALOT of suffering.

      • RJ says:

        Actually, this was a good response by the BTUC—they stated that the recommendations are a step in the right direction, but offered their own suggestions and reservations.

      • Robert says:

        So now civil servants should learn their place ?!!!!

        • Sandy Bottom says:

          They don’t deserve guaranteed cushy employment while the rest of us, who pay for them, have to live in the real world.

          • Robert says:

            You are a complet fool, civil servants pay the same damn taxes as you do dummy !!!

            • Sandy Bottom says:

              I’d venture to guess you don’t have a degree in finance.

            • Ringmaster says:

              As I have said previously in this thread in response to your similar post, civil servants receive their salaries from taxes raise from the private sector. The “tax” civil servants pay is merely returning past of that tax. It doesn’t add to tax revenue and is not the same. One part of SAGE which needs to be implemented immediately is to bring civil service pensions in line with the private sector.
              Incidentally, you lose any credibility when you resort to insulting people.

        • Robert says:

          Learn their place, what the hell is that supposed to mean ?!!!!

          • Sandy Bottom says:

            “Learn their place” is a phrase only you used. Are you arguing against yourself now?

          • Hmmmmm says:

            Robert, try reading and understanding. Stop looking for crazy conspiracy theories. Bermuda is in a mess thanks to the PLP and the current government and us the people have to work together to try and fix it for everyone. This is not black v white, or haves vs have nots. this is Bermuda and all it’s people.

    • Al says:

      Except that the SAGE report was explicitly to focus on making government more efficient and cut costs.

      It was never supposed to be anything more – that’s what the government’s platform should do.

  5. smith says:

    6 weeks of sick leave is responsible collective bargaining by the union? I get 10 days a year (a benefit, not a right to abuse) – no carry overs, sick note required after 2 days.

    • inna says:

      i think out of all the revelations in the SAGE report this was the most alarming, how on this green earth did someone agree to giving civil servants 6 WEEKS sick time??

      • Alicia says:

        What they need is to cut back the sick time but add a short term disability product for those who are really sick or surgery but not at full salary

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        It’s 14 weeks. Plus 6 weeks vacation.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      Actually, it’s not 6 weeks of sick leave. It’s 14 weeks of sick leave, plus just over 6 weeks vacation. That’s not counting the up to 100 days of brought forward “unused” sick leave.

      Yes, somehow you and I get by with 10 days sick leave a year. But these union people are sick. A lot.

    • Robert says:

      Wait a tick, negotiations are just that, they have to be agreed uponed by all involved !!!

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        Yep. They were agreed by the government, who was the PLP. Hence the cess pool of sheet we’re in.

        • Robert says:

          No, that agreement has been in effect since upb days, it is not 14 weeks of sick days. If you need a copy of the collective agreement i suggest you stop by the union and they will be happy to supply you with a copy, thats both BIU and BPSU !!

          • Sandy Bottom says:

            I have a copy of the collective agreement. It is 14 weeks sick pay.

            • Come Correct says:

              Not saying you’re wrong since I haven’t read it but I find 14 WEEKS hard to believe. If you need 14 weeks of sick leave you’re probably dead or should seek medical attention immediately, I barely use 7 DAYS a year.

          • Mazumbo says:

            Sandy Bottom obviously you don’t have a clue what your talking about, as usual!

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        The negotiators on the Government side are civil servants, answerable to no one. It is not their money that they are negotiating. They don’t care. Give the unions what they want. It is quitting time. Lets go home.

        The negotiators in the private sector are answerable to shareholders who deserve a decent return on their investment. They negotiate a reasonable deal or they get fired or, worse, the company goes bust & everyone loses.

        The Roberts of Bermuda seem are like those senior civil servants who seem to think that money falls from the sky. Well, it doesn’t. The tipping point has been reached & taxpayers are in no position to be reamed some more.

        Government must reduce its payroll & do it in a very big way.

  6. jus???? says:

    Ohk I get the cut backs that the Government has to make in order to get the country back on track. I understand that the Civil Service maybe too big and needs to be down sized, but it’s not the employees fault that there is so many of them. Jobs were advertised and people applied and succeeded in getting them. When the Government does cut back on the civil service what will happen to the people who will loose their jobs??? Will they have to go Financial Assistance?? Because there isn’t any jobs out here. More strain on Government. What about the people who own their homes and are still paying a mortgage?? Financial Asst. doesn’t help people like that. What will happen to them once Government cuts back???

    • UncleSam says:

      keeping them needlessly employed in government jobs is just another form of Financial Assistance. The end result is the same, gov’t pays.

      What it does do is continue a trend of entitlement and nepotism that is rampant in the BIU.

      • Robert says:

        I bet your complexion is lighter than mine !!!

      • Mazumbo says:

        Do you people have any clue why the Union was formed?

        • Hmmmmm says:

          Absolutely… I’m pro labour.
          I also clearly understand what a union should do in order to protect the labour forces future. Abusing this position harms the future of the labour force. Only have to look around the world to see the damage that has been caused to workers from Union abuse of position. I’ve felt it personally

  7. Hmmmm says:

    It is the responsibility of Govt and the Civil Service to deliver efficient and effective solutions to meet Bermuda needs.

    If we can’t deliver this then we need to redo and redo it right.

    Cost v benefit analysis is VITAL to ensure that OUR tax dollars get spent wisely and have the biggest impact.

    Wastage is unacceptable.

    Leaders and Parties will come and go, but if we don’t get the Civil Service working right then we will forever be making those that need the help the most suffer as monies are not available because of wastage.

    If the Unions keep putting barriers up, then International Business and Tourism investors will up and leave. Other jurisdictions are desperate for our business. We have no money….this is all we got. Seabed …gimmie a break… we don’t know what resources are there, and how much of that would actually come to Bermuda via Tax dollars? Very very little.

    The world needs to see a Bermuda that can do what it needs to do to adapt get out of the cycle and prosper. Don’t destroy Bermuda’s future. If blocking change is the goal, then we are firing an own goal past our own goalkeeper.

  8. Butterball says:

    Third world,here we come!

  9. It only hurts when I breathe................. says:

    ……and all this from the SAME FOLK that have not submitted Audited Accounts for ????????? how many years???

    Give me a break !………..

  10. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    If sweeping cuts have to be made,then so be it,but if you want to lay the blame on someone,go look in the mirror!

  11. campervan says:

    Whilst sympathising with the predicament of the civil service, where was the hue and cry from them when one past leader was bedding down on a fluffy pillow for 4 grand a night and surrounding himself with goons.
    What about the monumental own goal of the Colonel literally chasing IB out the door?
    THESE are the types reasons that have caused Bermuda to go into a financial tailspin.

  12. InsideTrack says:

    Perhaps, the unions should put forward it’s own means and suggestions to the Government as to how $320m can be chopped. I think they will find it very difficult.

    • Robert says:

      I bet you all wish that union formed by strong black men and women was never allowed to organise !!!?!?!?

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        Racist remark.

      • Mazumbo says:

        Only in Bermuda ,Unions in America, Canada and Europe are mostly white people but when they come to Bermuda to work they are told not to have any affiliation with B.I.U.

  13. Argosy says:

    …..a totally expected response from this mired-in-the-sixties bunch of clowns!

    Will the Gov’t give in to them? Of course!!

    “Quo Fata Ferunt” needs to be replaced. With “Nos autem non in omni pressura sunt”….”We don’t want no trouble” for our non-Latin friends.

  14. Triangle Drifter says:

    For decades the unions particularly the Government divisions, have been getting higher than the rate of inflation pay awards & crazy increases in benefits. Times were good. IB was booming. Tourism was doing OK but sliding. Well of course the party cannot go on forever. These more than generous pay demands were unsustainable & had to stop sometime.

    Well, the bubble has burst. The party is over. The chickens have come home to roost. No matter how you look at it, der is no mo monee.

    The unions can kick & squack all they want. They may strike themselves right out of a job. Ask any of the folks who used to work at all of the closed hotel propertys around the Island. When nothing is coming in there is nothing to pay out. Better to take a pay cut & short work week than lose the job.

    • Ya got me Rollin says:

      And where do you work?

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        Used to be tourism till tourists were chased away. The Platinum Period finally did me in. The newly wealthy from China were supposed to come but they never showed up.

    • Robert says:

      Maybe you should stick to what you know, and that’s, NOTHING !!!!!

  15. Former Union Member says:

    Given past rhetoric from the Unions I believe their statement has been tempered. It does not change some of the inevitable changes that must occur. The question of what to do with the soon to be unemployed (postal workers for example) remains. The current government would speak volumes by following one of the SAGE recommendations immediately, that of reducing the Cabinet…even though I think they have needed ministers in place to ‘man the pumps’ as it were.

  16. These unions have done nothing but DESTROY this island. they chased all the tourists out of here in their 1981 strike when they spat at them at the airport making them walk across the bridge. We then have the UBP bring in IB so we would not be held ransom to the labor unions and the great Col Birch chased the IB out of here in 2010. The civil servants have all been lazy and comfortable in secure government jobs protected by these unions which never should have been allowed to exist. The unions only spew rhetoric trash only to get in the way of private enterprise trying to succeed in business. They say they are there to protect the workers, what crap, none of them have ever worked a day in their lives. well time is up you lot, I hope the Sage commission is implemented and all you lot are forced to get a real job. We also need to dissolve all these labor unions, they contribute nothing but bad energy to the well being of this country and other places in the world.

    • Mazumbo says:

      Haven’t heard such garbage, how many places in the world had strikes and their tourist are still coming ,the reason the tourist don’t come is its too expensive, boring, they get fined a thousand dollars for one joint ,etc, etc. Bermuda is not the only place in the world that has Unions its more of who are unionized that people have a problem with.

  17. looking and listening says:

    The Sage Report and the recommendations contained therein are spot on. But nothing is going to happen. Ifthe OBA could back down from what I consider to have been a minor issue to resolve (LFUCC) what do you think they will do with the Sage Report recommendations?
    Case in point – yesterday a group of people… including a bus driver (I wonder how many riders had to wait for a bus yesterday)…. embarked on the Hill to protest the pending closure of the LFUCC… what happened was a case of “Let me see you do it” makes the doing difficult. In my view this was not a difficult case. .the Sage Report suggests that tough decisions will have to be made. A difficult case is difficult to answer. So what will the powers that be do? The Civil Servants and the Unions are the real ones in charge. They along with their friends and supporters will see to it that the Sage Report will lie dormant for a very long time. Or until such a time a new day truly arrives in Bermuda.

  18. Ringmaster says:

    The critical state of Bermuda’s finances won’t hit home for many until the Government payroll cannot be met in full. That day is approaching. When that happens, and it will, the 5% reduction so far agreed will be more like 50%. Either that or no job. That is the real world that people in the private sector experience. The public sector is no different except up to now they have survived on more debt, but that will end.

  19. Realist says:

    The unions will lead Bermuda to resemble Haiti.
    No one with any fiscal sense will invest in this island if there is any suggestion of a PLP/BIU government.