Premier: Expense Reductions Not Fully Reached

January 29, 2015

Cost reduction options both the Unions and Government agree on included suspending the Ag Show for a year, putting a cap on financial assistance, consolidating schools and reducing the travel budget, Finance Minister Bob Richards said today.

The Minister also said, “The Unions agreed to accept overtime that is normally paid at double time, at time and one half. They did not agree to any changes to overtime that is currently paid at time and one half.”

Minister Richards was speaking at a press conference today [Jan 29], along with Premier Michael Dunkley, with the press conference being held in order to update the public on the ongoing negotiations with the Unions.

12-minute video of today’s press conference

“I thought it important this afternoon to provide an update to the public, particularly based on the announcement made by the members of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] late last night,” Premier Dunkley said.

“But first I think it’s important to clarify some media reports emanating from last night. I want to stress that as it relates to Mr. Furbert’s comments that I was invited to last night’s press conference – the public should know that I never received an invitation to attend the press briefing – which in Government’s view was entirely premature.”

The Premier added, “I think it is very, very important to stress that the required reductions in expenditure just have not been fully reached, contrary to the BTUC’s announcement last night.”

11-minute video of the BTUC’s press conference last night

‎”T‎he Ministry of Finance and Cabinet Office are verifying the numbers as we speak, but early indications are that the spending targets of Government have not been fully achieved at this point. ‎

“Thus, we maintain that we must consider all options,” continued the Premier. ”If the Unions cannot agree to a Furlough – and to be clear a furlough cannot be implemented without their agreement – then the Government would need to consider reductions in service levels and programmes.”

Premier Michael Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon,

I thought it important this afternoon to provide an update to the public, particularly based on the announcement made by the members of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC) late last night.

But first I think it’s important to clarify some media reports emanating from last night.

I want to stress that as it relates to Mr. Furbert’s comments that I was invited to last night’s press conference – the public should know that I never received an invitation to attend the press briefing – which in Government’s view was entirely premature.

I think it’s also critical to note that throughout the day yesterday, throughout the disagreements and the impasse, great strides were made by the Government team to ensure that we made progress in getting both parties back to the negotiating table. And I want to commend the ‎efforts of all involved towards reaching this significant goal.‎

Last evening, when I joined the members of the BTUC on the Cabinet steps to announce that the Government and the union had agreed to meet to consider additional cost reductions – which included a number of options identified by the Cabinet – I also made the very critical point, that the Government and the BTUC agreed that continuing the furlough day would be considered as a last resort.

Last night’s negotiations were at an incredibly delicate stage and it was Government’s view that any cost reduction considerations be reviewed and vetted by the Cabinet before any announcement was shared with the public.

I think it is very, very important to stress that the required reductions in expenditure just have not been fully reached, contrary to the BTUC’s announcement last night.

‎T‎he Ministry of Finance and Cabinet Office are verifying the numbers as we speak, but early indications are that the spending targets of Government have not been fully achieved at this point. ‎

Thus, we maintain that we must consider all options. ‎

If the Unions cannot agree to a Furlough – and to be clear a furlough cannot be implemented without their agreement – then the Government would need to consider reductions in service levels and programmes.

That said, it is Government’s intent to move forward with producing a National Budget for 2015/16.‎

‎In closing, the decisions that Government makes will affect all sectors of the community. But the Government’s fiscal and economic challenges require that very tough and difficult decisions must be made.

As I have noted, we must continue to build confidence in Bermuda so that we all can continue to grow and prosper.‎

-

Minister Richards’ full statement follows below:

Good afternoon:

To ensure that the public are fully aware of the kinds of cost reductions being considered, I wish to share some of the proposals that have been agreed to by the Government and the BTUC.

The Unions have agreed to our proposed expenditure reductions, including:

~ Place a cap on Financial Assistance to reduce the allocation by $5M;

~ To achieve savings of approximately $1M by consolidating schools;

~ To reduce the Travel budget by $1M;

~ To raise the GEHI contribution that employees pay for uninsured spouses from 50% to 75%, saving $1.6M; and

~ To suspend the Agricultural Exhibition for one year for a savings of $0.4M

Some of our proposals which were not agreed to by the BTUC included:

~ A cost sharing of employee pensions, increasing the rate paid by employees and decreasing that paid by the Government by 1 %, realizing a savings of $3.5M;

~ A payment of all overtime at straight time. I‎nstead, the Unions agreed to accept overtime that is normally paid at double time, at time and one half. They did not agree to any changes to overtime that is currently paid at time and one half.

As a further note, the Bermuda Police Service and Corrections Officers were not in agreement in paying 50% of their health benefits, as is the case with all other negotiating bodies. This option is still being discussed with the Bermuda Police Association as it is just and equitable. ‎

Thank you.

-

For our live blog on the BTUC/Govt dispute click here, and for all our coverage of the matter click here.

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Comments (146)

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  1. Double D says:

    So the unions agree to cap financial assistance and suspend the AG show but wouldn’t even accept a 1% increase in pension contributions hp by their employees? The same pension funds that are also unfounded to the tune of billions and not included in our $2.2bn debt.

    Might as well call in the IMF now..

    • Double D says:

      *unfunded

    • Yes we can trust the OBA says:

      So what your telling me is the OBA had these people working for the Jetgate Premier @ approximately $418,000 per year. Was this leading by example oba? Chief of Staff, Press Secretary, Administrative Assistant and Special Advisor.

      1) Chief of Staff | Dale Jackson | $122,064 per year
      2) Press Secretary | Charmaine Burgess | $113,480 per year
      3) Special Advisor | Donald Grearson | $105,765 per year
      4) Secretary to the Premier | Judy Benevides | $77,254 per year
      5) Housekeeper at Clifton | Not named | $35 per hour

      • Yes we can trust the OBA says:

        The housekeeper was being paid $35 an hour????? WTF??? thats crazy! smh whats the sense of getting an education when housekeepers are being paid so much?! to wipe down some furniture and scrub a toilet? smh

        • Dizzy says:

          Dam that’s the 400,000 for the Ag show money right there all down the toilet. Look Craig Cannonier can’t be that bad as a premier they brought the man back. That tells me everything he did was ok.

          Doctor Brown you better check my sugar levels Sir! I think the red koolaid the ubpOBA is serving me has to much Bull $— in it.

          • Family Man says:

            Nothing wrong with your Kool-aid but you I regret to inform you that you’re colour blind. Your Kool-aid’s green, not red.

        • filobedo21 says:

          And this began with the first PLP Premier. When the premier goes so goes the housekeeper, no long term tenure here!

        • Redman says:

          @ Yes we can trust the OBA

          So how much should a self employed cleaner charge or be paid then?. I can hardly wait for the replies.

          • e says:

            When researching cleaning companies/private cleaners 4 years ago – I was quoted $35+ an hour by various companies/individuals. So it seems it’s at least the Bermuda standard.

            • what says:

              A friend of mine makes $14hr cleaning in Bermuda. So don’t talk no $hit. People are suffering in Bermuda.
              $35 ain’t the damn standard. OBA voters say ANYTHING.

              • Politricks says:

                People will continue to suffer as the cuts will have to be made as means to appease the bloated and inefficient civil service. They wouldn’t even sacrifice overtime and as such now social programmes and services will have to be reduced to make up for the difference.

                Get used to it as that is what you and your Party apparently wants. So no crying when the budget is finally unveiled. Just be happy that you and your Party firstly put us in this position and now you are fighting the Government to retain the status quo.

              • inna says:

                So everyone should just believe what PLP voters say?

                HAHA!

              • more than enough says:

                he/she makes $14hr but is charged out by the company at $35hr…now how is that right?
                unfortunately, this is the standard.

              • Redman says:

                @ What,

                What someone earns as an employee and what they are charged out for are two different things, you do realize that don’t you? well clearly you don’t, Duhh!

                Payroll tax, health insurance, social insurance, pension materials… all have to be paid don’t they?. Why not encourage your friend to break out and start their own business. Judging by your ill thought out comment I bet you feel it is someone elses responsibility to create employment for your friend and others (yourself?).

                As I said earlier I can’t wait to hear the responses, your comment is typical of the clueless entitled pay cheque earner. SMDH

      • Double D says:

        Good thing they only lasted a year, then huh?

        That post was even dopier if asked you to ermine how much a certain premiers bodyguards cost us.

        Irrelevant to the situation at hand.

        • Double D says:

          *To remind me how much…sorry…autocorrect silliness

      • hmmm says:

        Seems pretty light compare to what was there previously !

      • Mark says:

        The entire staff mentioned should take a 10% pay cut infect I also feel that anyone working for Govt making over
        $100,000 a year should take a 10% pay cut for the next 4 years.
        Thats a savings of Millions of Dollars.

        Got to laugh at the House keeper that makes $35 an hour!!!! is that acturly true! –thats $80,000 dollars a year [ Crazy]

        I know that Millions would be saved if all the MP’S took a 20% pay cut.

      • De-winner says:

        The wage for the House Keeper takes the cake! — please tell me this is not true!
        I heard about this sometime ago but I thought they were Joking.

    • 32n64w says:

      Mothing the BTUC agreed to directly impacts their workers while everything they rejected would have. The BTUC wouldn’t know what shared sacrifice was if it bit them in the butt.

      • jt says:

        I can’t see where their agreement was even required on much of this. Particularly the reductions in financial assistance. Although that one may bite them in the a$$.

    • kangoocar says:

      Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that everything the union DID NOT AGREE TOO, was anything that made their members pay anything??? This is just another classic case of, ” we agree that cuts need to be made but, make everyone else pay for them but US??? ” I actually think being it is a safe bet that 95% of the unionized workers voted and supported and still do, the the very party ( plp) that put us all in this mess, it is HIGH time they payed for their decisions!!! We in the private sectored have payed and are still paying for their ( plp) nonsense and it is time tne Union members pay up!!!

    • cmbbda says:

      I am SICK and TIRED of being held to ransom by the greedy selfish BTUC and civil service – WHO wants to join a counter march?

      Forget furlough days – just get RID of the civil service employees who are superfluous. I’m sure everyone knows which employee does all the work in each dept – get RID of the dead weight because this is RIDICULOUS.

      Taking money from financial assistance and the AG show from our children because you dont want an unpaid day whilst 5000 other people have LOST THEIR JOBS ??? – BTUC YOU ARE A DISGRACE

      • shut up666 says:

        Maybe that 5000 should have been unionized.

      • Actually... says:

        5000 people lost their jobs but i am assuming you are referring to private sector employees. sad for them to have been put out of work but their paychecks only contributed to the profits the firm made that year, the $100,000 plus paycheck that they lost did not go into any government account sooooo what’s your point?!

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      As predicted, the union is trying to set up a round 2 confrontation, so they don’t agree to anything that doesn’t impact their membership, and immaturely (and I use that in all frames of reference that the word can be used in) announce an agreement to try and paint the government into a corner.
      I could really go on about how badly this reflects on the union leaderships, but in stead here is my constructive input on this issue:

      - furlough is reinstated for all employees in the top 2/3rds of the pay rate, the bottom 1/3rd that would be the worst effected by the policy could either not be given a furlough or given a furlough once every 3 months, leaving them with a little more to get by
      - the top 2/3rd overtime is straight time and their double time is time and a quarter, the bottom 1/3rd get time and half across both over times
      - increase all employees pension contribution rate by 1%
      - the unions give the all public sector employees a reduced due rate
      - all ministers and MP’s take a 10% pay cut from their regular pay (I believe their last one for the ministers has expired, but may be wrong), and senators 5% pay cut
      - union agrees to allow metrics based employment practices for staff employment promotions and demotions going forward (this one is just in the because it should be practice anyway, in is in the best interest of the country, but may take a couple of years to implement as their will need to be differing practices for different departments)

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Oh, and just for $#!+$ and giggles, the BTUC leadership should apologize to their membership for misleading them last night with the misinformation that stated in their press conference… as with all negotiations, you got to give them something you know they will reject in order to get them accept the rest : )

      • shut up666 says:

        Don’t hurt to talk about it.

    • United OBA says:

      Minute 10:20 was a funny freudian slip the united One Bermuda Alliance….

    • Mockingjay says:

      Both parties need to be applauded for this WONDERFUL outcome.

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        Much like CF you are shooting off before the target is in range, the proposals came up short so there are still cuts to be made

      • Politricks says:

        So kunta thinks putting a cap on financial assistance in order for government workers to be paid overtime and not having to contribute 1% more to their underfunded pensions is a WONDERFUL outcome.

        So much for the ‘people’ huh kunta?

  2. Observor says:

    The Ag Show cancelled? To save $400k? Seriously?

    Unions you should be embarrassed. First kids miss school, now the Ag Show.

    I’m so upset I might go camp on Cabinet Grounds… actually, wait, I can’t, because I HAVE TO GO TO WORK!

    • Robert says:

      Obviously you cant read, butc has agreed with govts proposal to cancel ag show this year.

      • Creamy says:

        And what sacrifice will the unions make? Nothing so far.

        • A thought for today:
          Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. -Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (29 Jan 1927-1989)

    • Ty says:

      Seriously…you act like protesting is unique to Bermuda. I lived in Washington D.C. for 5 years and there were people protesting EVERYDAY on various issues…where do you people come from?

  3. Oh well says:

    AG Show suspended. Let’s see what’s next.

  4. Unbelievable says:

    Can somebody please explain to me why there is no mention of increasing revenues by lifting the payroll cap on those who make over $700,000?? Even if they pay 2% on salaries over $1m there should be a substantial revenue increase. Also they can let the remainder of the working population have THEIR chance to contribute to debt reduction by charging a per capita tax of 1% on all salaries in the private sector over $60,000. This should definitely equal the amount they saved in furlough days by the government workers over the last 18 months. EVERYONE benefits by the services provided in government, not just the government workers!!! Let the others have their opportunity to help the country!!

    • flikel says:

      So you are advocating increasing the tax burden on the private sector to maintain the bloated, over employed Government?

      So, my taxes are to increase, hence my salary is reduced…to allow Government workers to forgo furlough days and maintain their salaries?

      Is that shared sacrifice?

      • wow says:

        You raise a good point. Maybe we should have Furlough days and the the cap should be lifted so that everyone shares the burden (public and private). That is about as fair as it could get.

        I would pay a 0.5% increase increase on my payroll tax as well.

      • Actually... says:

        you want us to take a paycut but you arent willing to pay more money to government either even though your salary is over inflated. you want to talk about how the government employees are maintaining their salaries but the majority of us make a mere fraction of your “$700,000″.

        that’s very funny to me… shared sacrifice indeed… the rich get richer

        • Politricks says:

          Who’s salary is overinflated? You must be high if you think the average private sector job pays $700k. Maybe $700k in Jamaican dollars.

          If you didn’t notice but the most recent labour survey noted the average wage has decreased to $60k which is being driven by the 5,000 jobs lost in the past 8 years or so.

          Remind me how many jobs have been lost in the public sector over the same time?

    • It's about time! says:

      Who the HELL do you think is making over $700,000????? That must be a typo!!!

      • more than enough says:

        And that is a conservative estimate…there are many that make more…way more too, some have christmas bonus’s that exceed $700,000.

    • Trulytruly says:

      Because those people will leave like what happened under he PLP! Chase them away again. Great idea!

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      It a numbers game, the number of people in this country that make over $700k are few that any increase in taxation would not produce any great increase to revenues, however the incentive of this cap is among the reasons they come to the island, so if we remove the incentive, they may leave and then we are simply taxing fewer high income, ultimately bringing in less revenues than if they stayed at the current cap. Additionally, these higher income families tend to be higher spenders in the local economy, utilizing more services, regularly renovating their homes, eating out more.
      Ultimately it would be short sighted to say that we should tax increase taxes on those with higher incomes, if it results in less higher incomes on the island, brining in less tax revenues.

  5. agatha christie says:

    Ding Ding: Round Two, grabs popcorn, takes a day off (unpaid) to watch ….

  6. Really says:

    Consolidate schools??? I wonder which schools??

    • Creamy says:

      And how mamy teachers will be redundant?

      • Shadow says:

        None

        • Creamy says:

          So it really wasn’t a concession by the union at all. Their members will be working less hard, if anything. The only people making a sacrifice of any kind are schoolchildren.
          Yeah, thanks BUT. Thanks a lot.

      • Bermudian (Original) says:

        Unionized. Have you not been paying attention?

  7. common sense says:

    This government is doing their best to provide a secure future for all of us. It is not fair that the government employees have people at the table fighting for them but we don’t. The government is our representative but it seems that they are held hostage by the few who hold jobs in government. Let the truth be told. The government worker is working for the people and they should not be telling us what to pay them. We are the employer and we should tell them what they will be paid. We should not be paying time and half for overtime. Be grateful you have a job and you can make extra. We should not be paying your pensions learn to save like the rest of us. We should not be paying for your vacation and sick leave along with your strike days and tea breaks. We are held captive hostage by the government workers with the prospect of spiraling down into a riot. We need to simple reduce the work force and make people compete for their jobs and be fired if they don’t perform.
    Suggestions:
    Restore furlough days as last option
    Remove tea breaks
    No time and half
    Increase pension contributions
    Reduction in pay for all government workers by 5% over the next year
    Hiring freeze
    Reduce government by 10% ( have a skeleton crew of people who want to really work and perform for their pay check)
    Let it also be known that I am a PLP voter. This is not some sort of racist rant!

    • college student says:

      I say remove overtime, and make the employees accountable for their job during 9-5 (of course there will be some exceptions where meeting some objectives will require overtime). Some government employees delay work to get the overtime pay. Most companies in the private sector DO NOT pay overtime, and there are many times that the private sector employee would work 50 – 70 hours a week.

      put a cap on vacation days. allow only 5 roll-over vacation days, and a maximum of 4-5 weeks.

      reduce maternity. I believe at the moment, women get 3.5 – 4 months, which is more than the 3 month norm with pay

      fire those employees who don’t meet standards….it’s that simple.

      enforce rules, I bet all will be more productive government employees.

      • shut up666 says:

        Yes enforce rules and better communication throughout all departments on all levels.

      • Lone Wolf says:

        They can’t fire any employees in the Public Service. Anytime they try, there is another strike and they rehire them. No matter what the reason is for that person being fired.

    • shut up666 says:

      If it so bad move to a different country.

      • Creamy says:

        Telling Bermudians to leave their own country? That’s official PLP policy, is it?.

      • hiszpan says:

        I just did!

      • The Truth and Nothing But the Truth says:

        You have nothing to contribute so Shut up666!

        • Jack straw says:

          Why don’t you stfu. There are a number of bloggers on here that have very little or nothing to contribute. But they still have a voice and an opinion. Btw do you have anything to offer on this topic?

    • James Rego says:

      Knowing and understanding all of this ( economics), how do you justify supporting plp?

  8. 32n64w says:

    As predicted the BTUC tried to get in from of the story and misinformed voters with unsubstantiated claims about cost reduction goals. Their credibility appears to be in tatters. All talk, no action. How does this help Bermuda? The voters have been betrayed by the BTUC’s falsehoods. We won’t be fooled again.

  9. Betty Dump says:

    So the unions want to consolidate schools, hence potentially reducing the quality of public education even further than what it is already…

    They also want to cancel the year’s largest community event…

    and yet they are for the people…
    smh

    • Observor says:

      Indeed… whatever lines their pocket books.

      But it would be awful hard to reduce the quality of education…

      • Family Man says:

        Consolidate schools … but no job losses.

        So some schools will now have two Principals, multiple teachers for each class, multiple receptionists etc. etc.

        Lovely.

        • Actually... says:

          lol you’re being dramatic. consolidating schools means that there will be a couple schools with more children so that means more classes not multiple teachers per class. just because people aren’t losing their job does not mean that their job description remains the same…

    • Helping to clarify says:

      @Betty Dump

      For some history – you may not realize but the idea to consolidate small schools was brought up by the government of the time several years back (at least 3-4 yrs ago) – there was big uproar then. If I read and understood the statement from gov. above, I believe the proposal about the schools consolidating (and the ag show postponement for a year) came from the government not the union. Not saying I agree or disagree with the proposals, just trying to make sure folks know some of these ideas have been around for awhile and who is actually putting them forward. There’s a lot of anger and frustration out there, and some of it seems to be misdirected.

  10. Elementary says:

    Each Gov. Dept total up each workers furlough day according to each workers PAY SCALE
    Each Gov. Dept total up vacant post resignations
    Each Gov. Dept total up retired posts not filled
    Each Gov. Dept submit (all/ if any) dismissal posts positions not filled
    According to those yellow & blue books, anyone can intelligently figure out the savings from the furlough days AND MORE!!!!!!!!!!
    Now let’s look at yearly lisence on everything, Tax, BHC income and ……………………$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  11. don't bank on it says:

    those requiring financial aid are the most needy in our community. why are the unions agreeing to cap the fund for the most vulnerable, yet want to still collect time and a half for over time!

    • Redman says:

      @ don’t bank on it,

      My jaw fell to the ground on that one, I had to replay it a few times to be sure that’s what I heard, disgraceful!!!

      • Family Man says:

        Probably because those on financial assistance are unemployed and are NOT union members. The BIU feels its OK to make the needy pay so that their own members can continue to collect overtime rates.

        • Redman says:

          @ Family Man

          Yep, however when the Govt Finally gets the guts to and starts making the tough decisions; because they are just playing lip service at this time. When we start to see CS made redundant there will be little to no financial assistance for the former CS-Union members.

          Short sighted or what?.

    • jt says:

      Irony is their members will need the financial assistance after job cuts.

    • Seeing the other side of the coin says:

      Not saying I like or agree with the proposal, but I find it interesting how don’t bank on it worded his/ her comment…. “why are the unions agreeing…” ……. what about ‘why is the government proposing’ to cap funds for the most vunerable. Just an observation.

  12. Big Eyes says:

    Increase revenues what’s wrong with this gov’t.

    • hmmm says:

      PLP are trying to block them every step of the way.

    • Double D says:

      Easier said then done.

      Unless you raise taxes and kill off what’s left of the private sector.

      Rock and a hard place for Mr. Richards I feel.

      Also, take into account that salaries account for nearly 50% of government expenditure. Then add in all other operating costs (electricity, gas, office supplies, rent, building maintenance, car licensing, insurance etc now your pare talking around 55% to 60% of the total budget.

      Next throw in $120mn of annual interest payments into the mix which is approx. 10% of the total budget. So right off the bat roughly 70% of total budgetary monies (taxes and borrowed funds) is accounted before leaving little to nothing left for infrastructure enhancements, social programs and definitely no major capital project (no matter what a politician may say).

      Each year the debt gets more expensive along with salaries and benefits and ever year expenditure on the actual population gets smaller as a means to feed the massive money sucking government machine we have created.

      Soon our debt payment requirements will outstrip even the largest education budget we’ve ever had. Think about that. And if we don’t get our finances in order the market (investors) won’t be kind like last time and we will only get deeper and deeper into the abyss.

      Mr. Richards has the hardest job in this island at the moment and in know way will he win. In order to satisfy the unions cuts will have to be made (as seen above) to other parts of our society. Our government has essentially become the biggest employment agency in Bermuda! It’s not the workers fault, but it has to be somebody’s inane decision to grow the civil service to be 15% of our total workforce and nearly 50% of our annual budget.

      PS. Don’t even get me started on the near $300mn deficits, $2.2bn of debt and $2-$3bn of unfounded pensions.

      • Pondering says:

        To help save all of our jobs – and our island – I’d say one furlough day a month is a small price to pay. I do agree, however, it be based on pay scales. Those in the top pay grades could likely afford 2 a month!

    • Trulytruly says:

      If you paid attention that is what they are trying very hard to do. If you think anyone else could do any better you are sorely mistaken. Over the next few years it will be easier for you to understand what they have spent their time working on to increase revenue. It ain’t easy I can assure you.

  13. Redman says:

    Let me see if I’ve got this right; in an attempt to save furlough days for the employed Govt workers the Unions agreed (amongst other things) to a 5 million dollar cap on financial assistance.

    Something that supports people who are unemployed… Wow how mean spirited & shallow is that? SMFH

    Reality Check Needed!!

    • Your reality check says:

      the union may have agreed…. but WHO put the proposal forward? I hope you are equally angry with the government official who came up with it.

      • Redman says:

        Your reality check – or should that be insanity check?

        No not angry at the Govt Official at all, disappointed that it needed to be put forward.

        It was put forward because employed CS who are not sharing in the sacrifice want to keep their loaf of bread while the unemployed eat scraps. It was put forward because the Unions hardly gave an inch despite their CS members enjoying perks and bonuses that the Govt cannot afford.

        I hope you feel that way when the redundancies start, especially when it affects you?? and or your family members and friends.

        But hey we can just say increase revenue by snapping our fingers so it shouldn’t matter.

  14. flikel says:

    “Place a cap on Financial Assistance to reduce the allocation by $5M”

    This is wonderful. We won’t accept a furlough day….. but let’s reduce the assistance available to those unemployed private sector folks who are desperately in need. By way, do not dare pay me straight time for any extra hours I am on the job.

  15. craig looby says:

    So the deal with the unions and govt has a stipulation that $5million is deducted from financial assistance……way to go peoples movement way to go government workers…. the rich dont pay their fair share to the gov..and gov workers take from the poor so this is shared sacrifice huh? who are the unions to agree to this that affects all Bermudians who are either the working poor or not working at all …just so the few can keep their nice paychecks?

    • Wisdom says:

      Some of the money they can save from financial assistance is to take back the cell phone they give to the people on financial assistance! So yeah some of the cost can be saved from them because some of them are abusing the system! More vetting needs to be done as abuse is happening! Maybe this will cause them to be a little more strict with the funds they have!

    • Your reality check says:

      Are you also angry with the government official(s) who brought that idea to the table in the first place and likely not so bad off financially himself?

      • Redman says:

        @ Your reality check

        Yawn,

        The Union wont budge on needed money saving initiatives that effect their members so start the redundancy’s and privatization in the next budget please.

        A reality check is needed for the entitled ones!

      • Tony says:

        Perhaps they’d run out of viable options after the Union turned down all the cost saving proposals a normal person would have accepted?

  16. Unbelievable says:

    I’m waiting to see how the unions respond to this.

    Dunks and Bob, you better have not screwed up this one.

  17. Truth (Original) says:

    This is how ugly it is.

    The goverment workers didn’t lose any jobs to the west of the recession because the government was protected him with the use of furlough days.

    Private sector workers however, were laid off and fired and made redundant to the tune of 3300 workers.

    Now the union agreed to cap the amount of financial relief available to those workers who were laid off so they can protect their time and a half.

    That is unbelievably selfish

    Speechless.

    • Raw Onion says:

      And to add insult to injury, the abuses of overtime by govt workers is unbelievable. I know because I work for Govt and see it all the time. It’s planned and systematic in some Depts…

    • bdaboy says:

      Yes, a lot of Bermudians are selfish and greedy. This is nothing new.

  18. Ringmaster says:

    Simple way to increase revenue – tax rent income at 20%. Why should income derived from property be tax free when payroll is taxed? If you can afford property then you can pay to help those in need.

    • Trulytruly says:

      Nice idea but you just killed off any rebound in the real estate market with that idea. Why not adjust land tax so the higher valued properties say over $75k arc pay considerably more. Thiose who can afford that lifestyle can afford paying a bit more.

    • Smurf says:

      … and then watch those mortgages fall (or the cost of rent immediately jump by 20%). What you are proposing is an income tax – and I promise you would not like where that path ends.

    • jt says:

      Rent is the only way many people can ever hope to own property. Knock 20% off and watch more people lose their homes and fewer have a chance to own property to begin with.

    • Redman says:

      @ Ringmaster

      Uh that’s a seriously dumb idea.

      The PLP did similar way back when they first got in, they raised the land tax because “… it hadn’t been raised in several years”. Guess what happened? The increases got passed onto the renters with a few more 000 added no doubt.

      Coupled with the booming economy and the growth in expats coming in rents and property values/costs soared. The little man’ just got scr*wed even more.
      If you are a renter you’ve just advocated a 30%rent increase for yourself and all others who rent. Nice!!

      If you own your own property your ‘idea’ (lol) is self serving, gives you an excuse to raise rents… right? SMDH

  19. John D says:

    hhmm. less money for those who needs financial assistance (elderly and the down and out Bermudians). I see the hospital going to get full fast!!! Three square meals a day, roof over their heads, running water. Maybe prison will get full thereafter.

  20. Joonya says:

    Stop overtime and sick day abuses NOW! Or Im gonna start a march and its gonna be a hell of a lot bigger than 4000 people and it will be ending in Union Square!!!

  21. Bermy Bud says:

    So in reality the union sacrificed the children for one days pay! The Unions won the fight but lost the war! The children suffer once again! SMFH!!!

  22. John Doe says:

    So people in the private sector are really hurting. Hard working people in the construction sector who often only get maybe 1 day’s work a week. They are often without health insurance, never mind the pension. We know the budget based on the hints by Bob it’s going to be bad. It just seems so unfair that the private sector is really hurting, by far a lot more than the government workers with all their over the top benefits. So based on the above I would have like to see more spine, like Margret Thatcher did in the 80s. The OBA should have done things like.

    1. When they were on strike outsource trash collections to private truckers, would be cheaper and they would be glad for the work.
    2. Look at outsourcing more departments. If it’s about cost saving takes a leaf out of the private sector and look at things like Indian call centers.
    3. Like a lot of blue collars in the private sector move them to hourly paid. You get paid when there is work to be done.

    Radically I know, but this is what works in the private sector. The people who a valuable asset in government should not have anything to worry about. If we don’t people are going to start getting paid with IOUS in the not too distant future.

  23. Smurf says:

    Truthfully all this is scratching at the edges as it still leaves the gross public injustice of the civil service pension funds – which are unfunded to the tune of billions, These must be converted from defined benefit to defined contribution.

  24. new civil servant says:

    Before i accept another furlough day, I ask this…

    Is it fair for a retired high positioned government employee collect a pension cheque and a pay cheque without deductions.?They arent contributing to the pension fund or health insurance at all.

    Why cant government pay the difference in child care instead of paying all the fees? That way both parties are paying. If not working, watch your own child or children. Watch your kid and two more to earn income at a reasonable rate. Bermuda college is full rate now.

    Why can’t buses be free 6am to 6pm school days only? Plenty of time to get your kids to school and home. Shared sacrifice

    Why can’ t customs duty allownce be lowered to 100 dollars per family like it was before? Besides business and illness, travel is luxury. Shared sacrifice

    In case anyone who is wondering. I am a new low end pay scale civil servant single parent. As teen parent of two at the time. Daycare and buses were not paid by the government. I was fresh out of high school making 6.75 plus grats working day and night to make 300 per week.

    I am saying all this because most people feel we are lazy and make lots of money. Anyone under level 24 is struugling. Looks good until deductions. My health insurance in the private sector with dependants was far better and one group rate. Not so here.

  25. new civil servant says:

    I meant to say the retiree is back working in the civil service. May I add some also return as consultants.

  26. I and I says:

    So tired of these people paid to comment still commenting!!!!
    Please take up a more productive hobby or face the immutable law of Karma!!

  27. craig looby says:

    govt workers used their protest to influence policy over the past few days…at the expense of the working poor govt workers could have done what I have outlined in my posts above…..self interests over the needs of the people that pay them wins out…govt workers could have used the so called strike for the people to FORCE many real solutions that are need to reform the economy…the govt workers have a clear lack of vision of what real shared sacrifice means..and as a result dont have the ability to command union leadership on what to do to fix the many aspects of this island failed economic system…govt workers were prepared to stay out as long as it took so they could get their money…so they could have stayed out as long as it took to force the real economic changes that are needed across the board

  28. Rockfish#1and#2 says:

    What do the people who marched, stood in the cold rainy weather, and who may really need financial assistance, feel about the the BTUC position now? When the hard times hit us, will the unions give them meaningful assistance?
    You cant make this stuff up!

  29. Just Asking says:

    Instead of consolidating schools why don’t we AUDIT schools and the ministries. I’m sure there are PLENTY of unnecessary positions with 6-figure salaries that can either take a pay reduction or be let go of. Consolidating schools can mean larger classes for teachers as well as letting go of some teachers. Then when it’s not feasible for these teachers to teach or students to learn in these overcrowded environments it somehow becomes the teacher’s fault??? However, its the government that put them and the children in a HORRIBLE situation. Lets think!!!

  30. Freudian Slip says:

    In the tenth min or so of the press conference, Premier forgot the name of his party. I heard United……

  31. Creamy says:

    Just as long as the public employees keep their 14 weeks a year sick leave and 6 weeks a year vacation. They won’t let anyone touch that. They’d rather see schools close down.

  32. 100 % Real says:

    Why are people on financial assistance and they have a job. It should only be for people who really need it…..

  33. wakeupbda says:

    This is Crazy!
    So instead of job losses you consolidate schools, which in my opinion is the worst thing that can be done! Children are the future.
    Cut financial aid, there people who actually need this In order to survive. Most of them on financial aid have kids!!

    This is sickening, take the furlough days. After all it was the union who originally came up with the idea, Government wanted to extend it.

    Yes them people in government do make good money (they deserve to), but they are taking a pay cut to.

    Compared to other island, we need step it up become once again a Rich/wealthy island whom People want to invest in.

    All the things being posted in the media who in the right mind would to visit/invest. It is a total disgrace!

  34. shut up666 says:

    Well my fellow humans you have entertained me this evening. For you can feel your hatred. For a select few you are trying to give ideas so keep them comming. For those that are aggravated towards the past days events well to bad. Don’t blame the workers if they do not have supplies they need to accomplish a task.. For that is managements duty to position and mobilize required tools and material onsite. Now if the tax payer is paying a private contractor to use their equipment at the cost of 50000 a month would it not be more prudent to buy, replace, fix our own machines. Cedarbridge is the root cause of all our problems today. A strong majority of people incarcerated in this country where expelled with in the first three years. I wonder who’s great idea was that the ubp. They knew that U.S. model of school was flawed when they copied it. So in conclusion when you haters unhappy just think about one thing.

  35. Lawry says:

    Well, at least we now who is really running the country.

  36. cromwell says:

    What nonsense to suspend the Agricultural Exhibition, just outsource it to Bermudians for a small percent of the revenues. Do the same for the other programs as well. Keep it simple.

    • Hmm.... says:

      If it is s of important for children to have a day off from school to go and look at pigs and plants, is the private sector prepared to fund the AG Show. After all companies fund road races, end to end etc. why does the AG show have to be a Government expense?

  37. Balanced. says:

    It is understandable that large sectors of our community are concerned about being left out of potential Amiricas Cup involvement and profits.

  38. cromwell says:

    Everyone seems to be blaming the Union but I was under the impression Rev. Tweed (who at first was always up front) represented the new political Peoples Movement; what part do they play in these meetings and advising their solutions? Some one said (dont take this the wround way) the protest in front of Cabinet sounded like an AME church service.

  39. Essence says:

    I’m baffled as to why does the Government employees have to make concessions but the OBA government is giving concessions to the private sector? Why haven’t they spoken with the private sector and reduced their concessions over the next fiscal year? Thus, increasing the revenue received by Government. End the no duty concessions to the grocery stores, etc., cause I haven’t seen any prices go down.

    • Politricks says:

      So you will have no problem when the concessions to the grocery stores (which are only on the staples of every basic dietary needs) are rescinded and the price of the basics go up even further.

      So the price of living should increase further so that Government workers can continue to be paid time and a half?

      End the concessions and end the investments as well. Are you going to happy with that?

      So now you are also suggesting to end all incentives aimed at priming the depressed private sector so government workers don’t have to contribute 1% more in their underfunded pensions?

      Some sacrifice there…

  40. Bermuda123 says:

    How about the unions propose what their membership WOULD be prepared to give up? Do they still not realize that everything they have (jobs, medical, pensions, overtime) is paid for by those working in the private sector? Your neighbor is paying for you to have a job. Talk about shared sacrifice!

    Other thoughts

    1. Offer the Ag Show to the private sector for a one time shot and see how they do? It will likely be a better event, but at least it will continue at no cost to Government.

    2. Eliminate extra pay for overtime for say 3-6 months and see what that does to the overtime “needed”. It will either be truly essential and then the rate should be time and a quarter or will disappear and then no rate is needed. Alternatively outsource overtime to a private sector agency who can only staff it from currently unemployed Bermudians.

    3. Implement the Sage Commission over the next 12 months.

  41. Rick Olson says:

    Maybe it is time to privatize the AG show ?

  42. Big Burt says:

    So the uniions agree to put caps on financial assitance for those who are most vulnerable, and they agreed to consolidate education- whatever that means… How can these unions claim they are for all of Bermuda when they’d even agree to such terms to give themselves protection of income. SELFISH.

  43. Mark says:

    The real issue to this whole affair is the Govt.of the day has to find money to pay of the Debts and essential services.- but I get the
    feeling that they don’t know how to really save money or make money. — the running Govt. could be to conservative to take on new idea
    and make them work.
    So since the OBA have no clue how to save money let me help them.
    Saving Money:
    [1] 10% Paycut for MP’S
    [2] 5% Pay cut for the top staff in the Police,Prisons,Costoms,
    [3] 10% Pay cut for the Premiers Staff
    [4] Reduce the Meals at the Westgate Correction Facility to 2 meals a Day – lets see if Govt.brave enough to do that! lol’

    Here is how to make Money.
    [1] put the AG Show in private hands and GET A PERCENTAGE from the Attendence sales.-
    [2] increase the tax on Tabbaco products by 15% [ they want to smoke than burn there pockets!
    [3] increase the Tax on Alcoholic Beverages.
    [4] start a National Lottery ASAP — $10 A Ticket for a Finacial grand Prize
    [5] have a full Art Show at the City Hall and charge the Artist,and the people attending – also control the concession booth.
    [6] have a all School Talent Show that both Private and Govt,- and charge $15 at the door.
    [7] Increase Court Fines – infect put more emphasis on bigger Fines instead of that expensive Prison.

    These are just some examples.- has the Govt.run out of Idea’s or somthing!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      All well & good but just piddling around with small stuff that does not add up to very much.

      Something like $250,000 PER DAY just to SERVICE the debt. Keep that figure in your mind always.

      • De-winner says:

        Well I don’t think that all items that Mark has listed would work but it
        it would be a start.– at this stage of the game what ideas do you have.
        I’m deffiniatly for 10% paycut for the MP’s.

        • Triangle Drifter says:

          A very rapid implimentation of many of the Sage Report recomendations. Drastic cut in civil service numbers. Why has it grown by 50% since 1998 while the population has remained more or less static? It was bloated & wasteful in UBP days.

          Privatisation of many Government services which are way overstaffed & inefficient.

          Start with sanitation, Transport, W&E, Collection of overdue taxes, vehicle fleet maintenance, education, post office. Plenty more I’m sure.

    • Actually... says:

      [4] Reduce the Meals at the Westgate Correction Facility to 2 meals a Day – lets see if Govt.brave enough to do that! lol’

      this has got to be my favorite suggestion!

      • De-winner says:

        You know and I know all hell will break loose.– the OBA would be accused of a cruel act– it will turn Racial too.

    • De-winner says:

      What a list — you don’t think that this Govt. or the Govt. before this one would go for any of this stuff would you.[ well maybe ]
      But’ than again nobody in Govt. has come up with any good ideas lately.
      The National Lottery would be great but I don’t think our neo conservatives would never go for it.
      The Increase in the Court Fines is the one on the list mostly to come true.
      anybody out there got any idea’s — I’m sure that some MP’s read this stuff.

  44. MB says:

    SO SAD- TO CUT THE AG SHOW- PATHETIC!!!I think both parties and the union are all pathetic. Playing games, you made our kids lose days of school now you are cutting a highlight for them. Grow up and negotiate sensibly.
    @new civil servant you make EXCELLENT points. However, you are are not alone- we are all in that boat- it’s no better on private or public- it’s called shared sacrifice. You need to just be thankful you have a job. You can bet the budget is going to consider all those things you mention too- but that’s not enough sadly. People like you and the union members need to get on board with OBA’s plan and see the bigger picture- notice today a certain company looking to relocate because of its crap Barbados rating- well what happens when Bermuda is cut? We have NO industry on Bermuda except shrinking internationl business and strugglint Tourism. Whatever the OBA puts out to revive Tourism we need to support whether we like sailing or not.
    I ask How much did Dr Brown pay to bring PGA here- something like tens of millions for pretty grass ??? What did we get back?? Newport alone brings tens of millions to eoncomy, imagine what AC will bring? Grow up everyone and look at the big picture. Bermuda is a dying island if Furbert thinks he can hold the island hostage to his every demand. Wait til Budget comes out, the unions will probably strike again. will make furloughs look like a picnic. But hey- at least we don’t have to pay for the Ag Show

  45. Politically Incorrect says:

    Bermuda, Greece. is there much difference? Maybe we should just default. Yeah that’s a good idea. At $200mm + increase to debt every year we will NEVER be able to repay it.

  46. Jeremy Deacon says:

    For what it is worth here is my take: https://jeremydeacon.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/ding-ding-round-2/

  47. Bermuda says:

    So the unions have agreed to cancel the Ag Show, an event that all Bermudian schoolchildren and teenagers look forward to all year, and to put a cap on financial assistance to those who are less fortunate than they are and do not have the benefit of a job, and the only thing they have agreed to accept as shared sacrifice is overtime at time and a half instead of double time (which sounds extortionate anyway and doesn’t affect their regular pay)!?!?!? Meanwhile, people in the private sector have been being laid off for years and having their hours cut or having to pay increased payroll tax contributions etc.

    THE UNIONS HAVE NOT COMPROMISED. Basically, what it seems to come down to is that the union membership has no concept of the economic reality of our country and doesn’t care about anyone in Bermuda other than themselves. How completely and utterly SELFISH.

  48. new civil servant says:

    To I and I, I am surely not a paid blogger. This my first time commenting. Just because you feel to be an expert ,doesnt make you correct. No one knows everyones story, so dont assume. My earlier comments are real because I lived and am living them.

    I was surprised to hear of consolidating schools and the Ag show. I went to all public schools and my kids also, whom are still there. I go to the Ag show every year since I child.

    AII I am saying is its not right to group everyone together. Every department has their own seperate negotiations. I do not get 30 days vacation per year. Its not right to talk some employees, who have pobably been there well over 10 years, and feel its the same across the board.

    All the facts havent been told on both sides. If your loved one was in the civil service on the low pay grades, how would you feel?

    Also there are hotel workers and the like, on financial assistance, who are struggling. Yet they still pay taxes like the rest of us.

  49. new civil servant says:

    The fact is those who have made out like a bandit in government for decades, have made sure new comers dont get it ever. The civil service is divided between the haves and have nots. Check for yourselves.

  50. wondering says:

    I will give another suggestion or two:

    stop awarding contracts to people who owe the government money

    chase after unpaid taxes from groups such as hotels who still receive govt concessions

    eliminate half the fleet of govt cars – some are merely transport to and from work (95%)with official work (5%) being a by product.

    consolidate the workplace- there are far too may ppl who are not even up to the tasks that they are given which by the way are essential to the operational readiness of Govt on a whole….some ppl are dinosaurs in their offices and really get in the way of progress…….basically eliminate the behaviours that waste money.

    someone said print on both sides of the paper. the finance minister may not see the value in that action but the mentality that supports single sided printing is what keeps us in the Dark Ages and even that will only get us into the Stone Ages – we are living in the Data Age and operating like cavemen my Bermudians et al.

    what boggles the mind is this – the whole budget/furlough day scenario is like a game of Chess (that started the day the furloughs came into play). Govt vs. Inefficiency. the Govt tries to beat inefficiency and in steps the Union who advises Inefficiency and is supported by some Checkers pieces who only can hop forward and back on demand……..the Chess game is thwarted because inefficiency is now on the board with Checkers pieces and it is all muddled up!!!

    not once during the buildup up to Stalemate was there any Efficient updates provided to the masses via email (unlike the letter from BPSU President that highlighted all “what we did right” and what the govt did wrong) that was sent after it was too late…

    come on guys – raise your level of intellectual morality and show the people that you are a modern aged group on both sides of the floor.

    has anyone seen the volume of posts on social media yet this tool is under-utilized keeping the masses in the dark and therby under-educated whilst the “leaders” sit in their offices doing who-knows-what getting paid……..they always resort to the same tactics….come on bro and sis…PICK UP YOUR GAME into the 21st Century of politics and negotiating.

    Mrs Vivlyn Cooper once said to me:
    there are three things in life you can’t take back

    the arrow after it shot
    the bullet after it is fired
    the word after it has been spoken

    one thing is for sure – the unions and government proved that they did not exhaust all measures/solutions/possibilities in the first place in a timely manner that was in the best interests of BERMUDA as there was NOTHING new accomplished but a mere compromise that clearly and evidently could have been reached before this impasse that almost shut the country down!!