BIU President Responds To MP Leah Scott

February 20, 2015

BIU President Chris Furbert responded to MP Leah Scott’s recent column on “FurloughGate” saying he is not sure why Ms Scott has “taken this position, when clearly she is so far off base from the real issue.”

Mr Furbert said, “The Bermuda Industrial Union believes that the Hon. Leah Scott’s comments regarding Furlough Days were made only to try and protect the OBA government. As 1st Vice President of the BTUC and as President of the BIU I sat in all of those meeting and I do not recall MP Leah Scott being in attendance at any of those meetings.

“Therefore, when Ms. Scott writes “As they continue to hurl misstatements of fact and accusations at the Government”, I am offended as should every union member present during that time. During the action taken by BTUC members there was never a situation where the BTUC hurled misstatements of facts against the Government.

“To the contrary, the BTUC has called for the release of minutes and the tapes of all the meetings that took place with Budget Reduction Working Group so the public can hear what went on in those meetings, because the BTUC has nothing to hide.

“M.P. Scott asked ‘Where does race fit into that equation? Why does everything have to be exacerbated by race’?” On at least three occasions in her statement, M.P. Scott mentions race and I can categorically state that none of the BTUC leaders at any time mentioned race when they addressed their members.

“I am not sure why M.P. Scott has taken this position when clearly she is so far off base from the real issue. It is quite obvious that M.P. Scott wanted to justify the Government’s position on furlough days and everything else that they have been called out on by the BTUC.

“M.P. Scott also wrote ‘What this Government will not do, is favour and/acquiesce to the demands of any group over another [workers or otherwise], and certainly not for political reasons.”

“The OBA was elected in December 2012 and since that time BTUC has worked with the Government on a number of different issues. I can say that we have had questions on a number of occasions by our members asking when are we going to call for vote of no confidence against the Government.

“The BTUC to date has not done that because the OBA is the elected Government and we believe that when the people have truly had enough that a vote of no confidence will be called. So if this was political we would have called for a no confidence by now.

“Another statement by M.P. Scott: ‘The reality is that last week’s industrial action was, quite simply, a case of the BTUC and its members protesting in favour of its own selfish interest, and was promulgated by taking advantage of the rhetoric and popular sentiment to achieve its goals, without giving consideration of forethought to the impact their collective decisions would have on anyone else”.

Mr. Furbert added, “The statement is extremely insulting to all Government Employees, here’s why:

  1. The majority of Government Employers have been on a Wage Freeze since 2010 while the cost of their living expenses continue to rise. This Wage Freeze has saved the Government millions of dollars.
  2. Some departments have worked Overtime for straight time
  3. In 2013 BTUC leaders went to their members in good faith to convince them to take a Furlough day for 19 months to assist the Government in cutting expenses and now M.P.P Scott is making this statement that the BTUC is protecting its members selfish interest. When that decision was taken it was taken in the interest of the Country.
  4. The BTUC membership sacrificed for 19 months not because they wanted to but because they knew it had to be done. But as I said earlier, the majority of Government Employees are still on a wage freeze so they continue to sacrifice. Organized labour makes up about 27% of the workforce. If Ms. Scott has not heard this before and that is to say that the unorganized has always benefited from the work of Organized Labour.

“M.P. Leah Scott: “Was the real aim of the protests and negotiations to help the disenfranchised in our society? If it truly was, then the proposals listed below would never have been considered as acceptable by the BTUC: All the items listed in the proposals below were approved at a special Cabinet meeting held on Monday January 26, 2015, that the Premier has stated lasted for four hours:

  • Consolidation of Schools: The BTUC position on this item was that the Government needs to discuss this with the Bermuda Union of Teachers.
  • No Agricultural Exhibition: The BTUC agreed with the proposal as recommended by Cabinet
  • Financial Assistance: The BTUC was not sure why Cabinet made this decision and maybe the BTUC could have asked for some clarification before we agreed to the Cabinet decision of cutting it by $5 million, however BTUC has recommended that the $5 million be put back.

“The Bermuda Trade Union Congress has been very responsible and reasonable during this recession while working with our social partners with the support of our members. When employers have requested our assistance we were able to agree with the support of our members we have provided them with the assistance they needed,” concluded Mr. Furbert.

Ms Scott also recently penned a column about the Union’s operations, and Mr Furbert is expected to also respond to that column in the coming days.

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Comments (33)

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  1. Cubicle says:

    Seeing that they want everyone to be transparent, what are the salaries for the President of the BIU and the new President of the BTUC?

    • hmmm says:

      Chris, you completelty ignored the issues raised on behalf of workers in her opinion piece.

      Workers deserve better than this waffle from you Chris, don’t you think they deserve answers on the accounts and the limited BPSU voting notice.

    • no longer a memeber says:

      Answer the questions raised! Also, how much do you and your team make, so that all that are struggling can know. You never worked a second job, that green house is massive. Funny you painted it green??? Go figure either love of money or love for the PLP or perhaps both?????

  2. Mutual Respect says:

    Right now all I know is that after taking a pay cut at work and having to take on more responsibilities to cover people the work of other people who were made redundant, I now have to payer payroll taxes…so that civil servants don’t have to take a furlough day or have get a reduction in benefits? Something’s VERY wrong here.

  3. swing voter says:

    I’m surprised that (almost) last months news is still ongoing. we know both sides (workers and government) lost because of stupidity, irrationality, and lack of foresight leading to 2 days of unlawful industrial action. At least Otti, Molly, Gary Philips and Tab Bassett resolved their petty differences before the unecessary ish hit the fan. why play this song over and over and over again….NEXT!

    • Family Man says:

      And now they get to retire at 55 with a nice fat pension – guaranteed by you and your taxes.

      The rest of us can only dream of retirement.

  4. aceboy says:

    Where in the article does he address the fact that the NIU is in breach of its own constitution due to a lack of filing the proper financial statements?

    • Mockingjay says:

      I wonder how many other entities in BERMUDA have not filed their financial statements or is this like when de man busted Paradise betting and didnt bust nobody else.

      • aceboy says:

        The BIU is answerable to their members and the island of Bermuda, especially when meetings (strikes) cause so much disruption. They are breaking their own constitution.

        I see you complaining about the level of salary of BTA execs. At least we KNOW what the salary is. The Union just increased its fees, without any financial justification provided, and refuse to say what Chris Furbert is making.

        Yet no complaint from you?

        • hmmm says:

          Mockingjay must be benefitting !!!!!

          • hmmm says:

            I say this, because he is not speaking out on behalf of the workers, but trying to distract. BPSU workers hare not happy at the short notice for that vote.
            BIU members are paying the BIU to do their job, part of that job is to file accounts in a timely manner and show transparency to their stakeholders , the union members.

            Yet all we hear from Laverne and now Chris is distraction.

            Serve your workers who pay you, not yourselves!

  5. aceboy says:

    BIU, not NIU.

  6. Nice Twist says:

    “3.In 2013 BTUC leaders went to their members in good faith to convince them to take a Furlough day for 19 months to assist the Government in cutting expenses”

    This is hilarious! You don’t take a pay cut to assist your employer, you do it because the alternative is a lay-off. Money does not grow on trees, and if your employer does not have money to pay you, then you cannot be paid.

  7. craig looby says:

    what are the peoples movement going to do to end the subsidy of govt workers at the expense of the poor in Bermuda via a cut of $5million from social assistance?
    What happens to the low wage govt worker who gets made redundant….they wont be able to get social assistance now will they?

    • hmmm says:

      The peoples movement should be all over this like a rash….

      but they ignore it .

      There should be a march on union HQ to get answers and results.
      Being treated like fools workers are.

  8. BT Checker says:

    Please confirm your salaries.

    Please confirm why you have not filed accounts for 3 years

    Thank you

  9. Coffee says:

    …. Just can’t take MP Leah Scott seriously anymore. I believe that whatever credibility she once had has evaporated with the leadership of Cannonier ! At this time I’d like to remind the readers that she once rocked the OBA boat by stepping out of line with the party whip . It is my guess that she’ll now do whatever it takes , say whatever needs to be said , no matter how preposterous or off the Mark , so as to get back on the good graces of her betters .

    • hmmm says:

      She wrote a really good opinion piece, of which the unions cannot and will not respond to the facts raised.

    • iabingi says:

      Wow coffee, lighten up, maybe add some cream and sugar to yourself and respond to the article and stop attacking the messenger

  10. jt says:

    I’d like Mr. Furbert to respond to Leah Scotts piece published today.

  11. Investor says:

    How much does Chris Furbert get paid from we workers?

    • Mockingjay says:

      Less then what Hanbury is getting paid from we workers.

      • hmmm says:

        This has nothing to do with the BTA…this has to do with the unions and the workers. Do you get off short selling workers by distracting from these important issues and facts !!!!

        • Mockingjay says:

          Do you get off by trying to arouse the workers who really don’t care about this crap.

          • Hmmm says:

            No, the union works for the workers, so where are the financials from the BIU, why was so little notice given for the vote to pay BPSU leader a salary?

            The workers pay you, how about you do what you are paid to do.

      • de fence says:

        If his salary is secret, how do you know it is less than Hanbury?

  12. pwndwg says:

    I bet the union fat cats earn what the civil service fat cats earn. $180-250k. Not bad for people who are otherwise unemployable – even at 1/5th of those $$$. No wonder they have been blocking auditors for years.

  13. Just Curious says:

    Keep them honest Leah , you’ve got all the paid PLP numpties burning out their keyboards , and not ONE of them can answer the charges .

  14. Ex-member says:

    The arrogance of the union knows no bounds. What makes chris Furbert and his members believe that they have the right to initiate a non confidence vote against a democratically elected government. The electorate didn’t vote you into power and in no way shape or form should you believe that you have the right to try and topple an elected government.

    This is the exact reason why FDR, the father of private sector unionism, said that it is impossible to have public sector unions. We vote in the government and as such they should not have to negotiate with an unelected body when it comes to deciding spending and social policies. Public sector unionism is totally incompatible with democracy.

    Where are your financials and why does the credit union have restrictions imposed on it by the BMA?

  15. Investor says:

    Man, my dues went up 16.5% and its a recession on.