Sen. Ball: BTUC & Members Should Reconsider

February 4, 2015

vic_ball[Opinion column written by OBA Senator Vic Ball]

The Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] and its members should reconsider the question of whether to agree to one furlough day per month or make some compromise related to the number of furlough days to be considered by its members.

The trouble Bermuda is in is not an issue that should be fought out between the unions and the Government, as if it is a matter of settling some minor difference in an employment agreement.  The outcome should not be arrived at through threats and brinkmanship.  Our difficulties as a country are much too big and much too far-reaching for that.

As I think about the events of last week, involving the Government and the BTUC, I’m reminded of the old story of Rip van Winkle.  He fell asleep, you’ll remember, and woke up 20 years later to find himself in a world changed beyond recognition.

It’s sad to realize, but Bermuda and Bermudians fell asleep some years ago. While our eyes were shut, our debt ballooned out of control, reaching the almost incomprehensible figure of $2 billion.

It is debt that we and future generations of Bermudians are going to have to pay back, starting now.   We don’t have any more time to sleep.

One of the things the OBA Government had to do when it was voted in was turn on the lights.  We had serious concerns coming into office, but nothing prepared us for the awful truth of our debt burden and the momentum behind it.

The situation is brutally clear: unless we end the massive annual spending deficits – that is the gap between what government spends and what it takes in – we risk national insolvency and our financial independence.

This is the challenge of our time, and the consequences of what we do will impact all of us moving forward, including our children and theirs.

Bermuda’s private sector has been awake for at least six years! Business owners saw the writing on the wall, and realized that unless they began to adjust to the new reality, their company wouldn’t survive.  So beginning in 2009, some businesses started to go to four-day work weeks, made some employees redundant, and laid off others.

In stark contrast, there are currently no unemployed Government workers.  The furlough day that was agreed last year helped make that happen.

The civil service wage and salary bill eats up close to 50% of all of government revenue.  If Bermuda’s deficit is going to be arrested quickly, we can all see quite plainly that this expense is going to have to be trimmed.

The Government’s deficit this year is projected to be $267 million…. money we have to borrow just to keep civil servants paid and services running.

That in itself would be alarming if we had no debt, but with the debt, it is an insane number.  It is not sustainable and it is a fact we must face now.

All civil servants have kept their jobs.  Many in the private sector have not.  Quite frankly, no one wants to see unemployed former government workers.

With that said, is it so bad to ask civil servants to give up one day a month, for a total of 12 days a year, when some private sector employees are losing a day a week, for a total of 52 days a year?

I have a wife, sister, family members, former colleagues and many friends who work for the government. I was myself a civil servant – until 2012. I know that civil servants don’t want to see their co-workers, friends or family members unemployed.  Most civil servants understand that it is better that all accept a 4.6% decrease in pay rather than some having no job at all.

As a former Government employee, I am suggesting to my friends in the public service that they should reconsider the question of whether to agree to one furlough day per month or some compromise.

I will finish with a familiar story, this one about a man named Noah. He warned the people for many years that one day a flood would come and destroy the Earth. He was ridiculed and no one believed him, even after they watched the animals enter the ark without any supervision.

He was mocked and called many names even after the door of the ark closed without a visible hand.

We know how that story ended.

Friends, the signs are there. Please pay attention. Bermuda is in trouble, and needs your support. Bermuda needs everyone’s support.

-Vic Ball

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Comments (125)

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  1. Justin says:

    All civil servants who think they’re going to get a pay increase for 2015 if they don’t have to take a furlough day are sadly mistaken.

    • Self says:

      No civil servants are expecting an increase.

      • WHAT? says:

        The only increase is the civil service. OBA says the civil services is over loaded. So why the foxxxxxess tail have they been continue to hire and fill positions? They continue to talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. Then they say we have no money but fly off to pray on tax payer $$$$$ in Washington. You keep printing on Bernews the expense reports but you haven’t showed me the 2000 jobs.

        • Build a Better Bermuda says:

          Part of the problem with the civil service, and I am not talking about the employees here, but the system itself, is that it requires excessive bodies to operate it. It has never been streamlined, employed proformance metrics for jobs, had modern systems being used make work more efficient. It requires 6 bodies to do public works that a private company completes with 2 or 3. It has become common practice within the system that when there was extra work to be done, they just hired to do it, rather than make employees more proficient at what they do so they can get more done. This is where metrics employment practices help, they help find the people lagging so the issue can be addressed, whether through required training or if the employee just doesn’t give a $#!+, firing. The issue is, it will require funding and time to implement efficiency in the system and given the size of the CS, that will be a lot of both.

        • Claude says:

          My department is barely able to function with the lack of staff and unfilled positions. By contrast, the admin, accounts and HR departments are overloaded with staff.

        • Loquat Tree says:

          There are many, many unfilled positions throughout government. Many of these positions are not being refilled. Employees are already having to fill in the breach, take on extra duties and so on, to maintain service levels to the public.
          Once the new early retirements kick in this will increase, though in time may make way for other staff to move up, but each such move takes time, saving money in the interim.

          For many years any meagre pay rise awarded to the civil service was to keep pace with inflation only and even those have not been awarded for several years. It is wrong to claim or mention pay rises as if this wasn’t the case and makes the workers sound greedy, even if only trying to maintain their rent payments, nursery fees, government taxes and so on, which yes, we all pay equally.

    • Mockingjay says:

      Ohh, forgot about this Surrogate.
      And how much he gets paid a year?

  2. Alvin Williams says:

    What the OBA government should reconsider is all those tax breaks it has given it’s business friends. why did they do this? It was suppose to boost employment prospects for Bermudians? the results so far increasing unemployment for Bermudians while some employers have taken the chance to employ cheap migrant workers rather than pay Bermudians. Our country needs us? Our country under this government has deserted Bermudians.

    • Politricks says:

      Does that include repealing the tax breaks for the Exclusive Economic Zones as well?

      How about repealing the Concessions Act passed by the PLP?

      • SMH says:

        What about the union bond that was forgiven by the PLP? Interesting that Alvin chose to ignore the facts of the massive (friends and family??) over runs at Port Royal, Heritage Wharf, Berkley, Court building, Grand Atlantic, etc. and choses to focus on heresay.

      • Once again, “selective thinking” :-(

      • Santa Claus says:

        It should include both, yes.

      • stuck inside the box says:

        Presume you mean Economic Empowerment Zones?

    • Unbelievable says:

      Alvin really has no leg to stand on. He chooses to ignore his party’s deficiencies. He behaves as if they are pre-destined to run Bermuda.

    • Self says:

      They also pay out exorbitant amounts of money in rent. Consolidate all those offices that are all over the place. One government department alone pays over 30G per month in rent to a management company owned by an OBA MP. Why can’t this small government department share office space with another department? They want civil servants to give up something, so why can’t they?

      • tee says:

        And getting ready to move another department into a OBA members building… Shared sacrifice my foot

        • Hmmm says:

          Is that going to save money v the cost of where they were?

          Please name the member of the OBA. If it save money we can applaud if it doesn’t we can berate them

        • iabingi says:

          So if it were a PLP members building then?????

          • Creamy says:

            Yes, like the one opposite the court building, for example. Maybe they should abandon that lease. A few ex-PLP ministers would be out of pocket, wouldn’t they.

      • Huh says:

        WTF!

      • Claude says:

        Many of these agreements were long term ones from the PLP days, agreements which see the payment of rent irrespective of whether the office space is used or not. Government are tied in, trapped.

        Ask also how much is being spent upgrading the offices above the post office, and how long its taking.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      This would be the government that is trying to avoid us from being foreclosed on by the foreign creditors your party sold us to?? It is obvious the OBA doesn’t care about Bermudians, they have just been doing all they can to ensure our grandchildren can have a future where they own Bermuda’s financial independence. I can’t say it’s for our children, because your party has already sold them to foreign creditors. As for the tax breaks, since you share the PLP’s short sighted sense of vision I wouldn’t expect you to be able to see that those breaks apply to anybody who qualifies, across multiple industries, and few more so than in the EEZ.

    • hmmm says:

      What business friendS????

      Do you mean the Princess Hotel that is being rennovated and has been hiring Bermudians for the hotel and to get the rennovation done.

      Remember the owners weren’t given money to do this. Guess what the firms doing the work have employees and emplyers who pay tax.

  3. David Henry says:

    “It’s sad to realize, but Bermuda and Bermudians fell asleep some years ago. While our eyes were shut, our debt ballooned out of control, reaching the almost incomprehensible figure of $2 billion.”

    I like what the Senator has to say, and this letter makes a lot of sense. In the sentences above, though, he’s trying to be too politically correct. Bermudians did not fall asleep some years ago; PLP surrogates did. Anyone with two eyes, two ears, and half a brain saw what was coming from years of woeful incompetence, reckless spending, and biting the hands that fed us. It’s funny these same surrogates are now up in arms, forming campaigns, chanting “enough is enough”. Where were these people the better part of a decade ago?? Hey, Bermuda is another world, but as a lot of these puppets are about the find out; stupid decisions lead to bad consequences. And Bermuda is no exception.

  4. San George says:

    Balance the budget – make it a requirement within the constitution. Cut government staff and wages. Outlaw union membership for government workers.

    But you will not – you don’t have the political will.

    Quo Fata Ferunt.

    • SMH says:

      Or even change the law giving Government employees the right to not contribute to the union (without having to give to a charity instead)

    • Newly Optomistic Bermudian says:

      Here Here1 It must happen or we are doomed

    • Guest27 says:

      @ San George – You had me until “Outlaw union membership for government”.

      People have a right to union membership if that is what the majority wants.

      • PBanks says:

        Yeah, to outlaw union membership for public sector workers, don’t know if that’s even feasible (not to mention, completely unpopular)

      • Warwickboy says:

        FDR, the father of modern liberalism and one who did more to expand the reach of the govt than just about any other US president, was resolutely opposed to govt workers collectively bargaining. he felt it was immoral for workers who depended on the taxpayers for their income to bargain with fellow govt workers about how to spend those taxpayers’ money. There is no one at the table representing the taxpayers in negotiations over public scetor wages and benefits. Senior civil servants bargain with the union representing civil servants (themselves included) and we expect a fair deal for taxpayers to be struck?

        • Double D says:

          That was mentioned in the SAGE report I believe. That is there is an inherent issue when the union negotiates with the union to determine the CBAs. There are essentially no impartial parties at the table and like you said no one representing the taxpayers. Same all over the world just about.

        • FDR says:

          FDR was the strongest advocate for private unions and was the President who signed in the historic Wagner Act for worker protections. However, you are right, he described the idea of collective bargaining with the government could not be replicated as it is in the private sector. Even the first ever president of the AFL-CIO noted that it was impossible to collectively bargain with the public service.

          The reason being is that collective bargaining within the government essentially means voters do not have a final say on public policy as one should via voting in a democracy. Instead the elected representatives would be required to negotiate with non-elected representatives on spending and public policy decisions/matters. As FDR said:

          “a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        The flip side to that is that people should have the right to not have union membership. I do not agree with San George, but I also completely disagree with mandatory union membership because of your work place and believe the labor laws need to be amended to allow this liberty from forced subjection.

        • Wise Up says:

          @Build a Better Bermuda, there is a choice to not be a Union Member. This is not mandatory when working for government employees. If you choose not to do so your payment can be given to Charity.

          • Coffee says:

            And without paying the stupid government employee price you’ll still get all of the benefits that the ignorant have fought for over the years !

          • Hmmm says:

            Yes but you are still a union member. Break these chains.

            • Loquat Tree says:

              No they are not union members if they choose the charity option.

        • frank says:

          If they don’t, pay to the union. Or the charity that they want. Then they should not get the benefits that the union negotiate. For. Simple.

          United we. Stand

          • Mockingjay says:

            No S!@+
            Let the charity that they give their $ too give them their benefits.
            They’re called SCABS

            • hmmm says:

              No, they are free thinking independent people who made their choice.

              If you like to be bound by chains to a Union, that’s your own problem.

  5. Bermudian Momma says:

    The problem that is not being addressed is that the private sector, while reducing its expenses via the 4 day work week and reduced staffing levels, does nothing to reduce the Island debt or deficit. If anything, it adds to the deficit with less money entering the Government coffers and Government spending increasing when the now unemployed require financial assistance. Reducing expenses will only take Government so far. If Government was sincere about looking at reducing the deficit it would also be looking at revenues. What potential revenues can be found? Does Government need to revisit the decision of the tax breaks given / promised to the varies entities? Does it need to rethink the public funds given to BTA with no accountability to the public on how it is spent? Do we need to reinstate charging bus fare to children on the weekends and school holidays? Does the employment tax tiers need to be revamped? Do we need to look at a value-added tax for services? These are the sort of uncomfortable questions that need to be considered. In case you are wondering – I work in the private sector.

    • Double D says:

      But what you are not understanding is that to increase government revenues private sector economic activity must increase.

      By placing more pressure on a sector that has shed 5,000 jobs and seen numerous companies close it will have the opposite effect. Increasing taxes will only increase the cost of doing business in Bermuda which will inevitably result in more layoffs and closures and ironically less revenue for the government coffers. You can’t impose an income tax on IB as that is their only reason for being here as well as the fact that Ms. Paula Cox extended the tax agreement with these firms until 2030/5 if I remember correctly. VAT will only increase costs here as well. Actually any tax increase will be felt by everyone, including the unemployed, seniors and other vulnerable parts of society.

      We are desperately in need of job creators at this point as it is obvious we can’t sustain our own, as is the case for most countries these days. In order to make Bermuda an attractive option we have to provide something to lure them to our shores. For example do you think if we say no to breaks to hotel developers, do you think they will proceed with their plans? We are already a very expensive jurisdiction to do business in without increased Government fees/taxes. You must remember we are competing with the whole world today. Bermuda is no longer another world and other jurisdictions are more than willing to accommodate these investors. Read up on on the Baha. Mar resort in the Bahamas that was built by the Chinese. To achieve such developments we have to give such people a reason to do business here. Pink sand just doesn’t cut it anymore unfortunately.

      My point being that you cannot raise taxes in such a deep recessionary environment as it will only do more damage and the only way to raise government revenues and cut the deficit is to encourage greater economic activity in the private sector which will only be achieved by incentives to do so.

      In the end we don’t have so much a revenue problem (as it has increased) we have a spending problem as evidenced by our $270mn annual deficit.

    • Are you new? says:

      If you tax the private sector, the international companies will just go somewhere else, leaving only Bermudians to bear the burden of your tremendously oversized civil service.

      The private sector does not contribute to the deficit! That is the silliest comment on this article. The civil service that takes up 50% of the budget is the main contributor.

    • frank says:

      School. Children. Should. Now begin to pay to ride the. Bus
      If parents can buy a cellphone for their child then they can buy a. Bus pass

  6. C James says:

    They didn’t want a furlough day – so there will be cutbacks – simple as that.

    Reduction in pay, or Job losses. Just like the private sector has had for several years now.

    They could have resolved it by taking a furlough day. Hard lesson to learn – but then a lot of people are blind and ignorant.

    • SMH says:

      Unfortunately the only real option is job losses – you cannot just simply cut someones salary who has signed a collective bargaining agreement.

      Definitely a hard lesson to be learned – I just hope most of the members know exactly what they have chosen.

  7. Watching says:

    LOL funny. Like he really wrote this.
    We should get him in a press conference to articulate the items from this opinion column.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      So what is the problem the message or the messenger? Maybe you don’t like either. I don’t much care who wrote the piece, the messenger was very mild & polite about a very serious situation. A looming financial disaster that far too many are in denial about.

      A bloated inefficient Government caused this debt. An inept ruling party let it happen despite being warned. The Government payroll has 50% more people on it than 1998. Bermuda’s population has shrunk during that time.

      What are all of these people doing?

      To get back to 1998 levels, which were too high, 1 in every 3 needs to be let go. Taking a 1 day a month furlough day is NOTHING. A 4 day week every week would not even do it.

      It is not up to the struggling private sector to keep the CS in the lifestyle to which it has become accustomed.

    • Observer says:

      Why do you doubt that he wrote it. This letter would be a simple feat for an educated individual.

  8. Bermieman says:

    We keep on hearing that the civil service is to big and while that maybe the case, why is government PLP or OBA so afraid to do a department and department review to decide which departments can be down sized, remain the same or be increased? (Believe it or not some departments are under staffed) Instead they want to cut across the entire civil service by the same percentage.
    Furloughs may be only one day a month which is 250-300 on average removed from my paycheque, plus an increase in insurance this year and next of 19%, plus the fact we have not even had a cost of living increase in 5 years, and lets not forget the budget this year is probably going to hit everyone in the pocket in some fashion or another.Perhaps if they suggested ways to stagger furlough, perhaps say no furlough this year but start again in 2016, but not wait until the 11th hour to say it must continue. The unions are in part to blame as well they have known that it remained on the table but did not discuss it just drew a line in the sand.
    The last 12-15 years has seen hotels, restaurants and some businesses in the Economic zones get tax breaks and while these were supposed to kick start the economy perhaps government should suspend these breaks for a period to increase their revenues.
    So while I agree that taking furloughs is probably the best way to save some civil service jobs how about letting us civil servants get back on our feet a bit first.

    • inna says:

      “…why is government PLP or OBA so afraid to do a department and department review to decide which departments can be down sized, remain the same or be increased?”

      Three letters: BIU.

      • Loquat Tree says:

        Several reviews are underway.

        Maybe some services can be cut. Are the public willing: to have services cut, less opening hours for government offices and services? back to once a week trash pick up? pay for services currently heavily subsidized or free?

        One problem with the furlough days, was that nothing was cut in the way of services or work to be completed for most, so the same work had to be done, but with one less day per month in which to do it. Money was not at all the only issue.

  9. Um Jus Sayin says:

    Do any of you realise that the BTUC members gave back to gov’t a total of 31 million dollars in cost saving initiatives, like pay freezes, furlough days etc. When will the private sector with their quarterly increases and millions in profit give back to the gov’t who has allowed their tax breaks? Possibly even match the unionised workers payback!

    • LiarLiar says:

      The tax breaks were issued (by both Govts) to the struggling sectors of the private sector (i.e. construction and hospitality) and not the IB companies that record big profits. They were issued, by both Parties, as a means to stimulate these sectors which employ (or used to) a substantial part of the BDA workforce.

      By granting these concessions the developments that wouldn’t have taken place came to fruition resulting in jobs becoming available that otherwise would not have been, the associated payroll taxes wouldn’t have been received, monies wouldn’t have been spent in other areas related to these projects (i.e. construction material suppliers, food and beverage distributors, gas for the equipment used etc.). I suggest you read up on the money multiplier effect to understand how such incentives benefits the economy as a whole.

      Now if you want to increase taxes or provide no incentives on or for the private sector then be prepared for higher job losses which in turn results in less taxes being received by the Government and therefore a further need to restrain Government finances (i.e. redundancies etc.). It seems that you want to punish the private sector even further so the bloated public sector can retain their benefits, refuse to pay 1% more into their pensions, and continue to receive overtime while no having to sacrifice one job. And let us not forget that the Unions confirmed that the average salary of the civil servant is now $18,000 higher than the average non-civil servant worker.

      I can’t for the life of me figure out why so many here don’t understand that the private sector drives the economy as the public sector produces absolutely nothing and lives off of private sector production and taxes.

      If the Government was in the private sector and faced the same financial predicament furloughs would be the worst of your worries.

      The current predicament isn’t the civil servants fault at all. It is strictly the politicians’ fault, who used the civil service for their own pork barrel politics and self-serving interests and allowed it to grow beyond any sustainable measure. But either way the fact that 50% of our annual expenditure is now consumed by the civil service salary is completely unsustainable and needs to be addressed now in one form or the other or else it will be much worse in the very near future.

    • jt says:

      The fact that any private sector business that remains profitable through any means pays for every cent of public sector wages should be enough.

    • ya fullish says:

      Actually the number is close to $100 million spread across the last 5 years. By the end of March 2015, Furlough days will have been implemented for 18 months. Unfortunately Sen. Ball seems to believe it was implemented at some point last year.

      Misinformation polarises uninformed persons to believe certain things as facts. Please get it right before publishing.

  10. progress says:

    (a) who is the named author of this column?? never seen or heard of him before. another oba ‘smiling face’, no doubt.

    (b) who’s the real author of the column? don grearson, the oba’s paid consultant? let’s maybe fire him first.

    • Lois Frederick says:

      It tells you right next to the photo – Opinion column written by OBA Senator Vic Ball.

  11. San George says:

    @Guest27 and others – it is a choice to be employed by the government. If the government is to operate on a balanced budget its employees must understand that the government cannot spend more funds than it has.

    Otti Simmons said “the government knows where the money is – go and get it.”

    It is not feasable to excessively tax the private sector – they have choices. Capital seeks profit – if there is no profit they fold up camp. Management does not make that decision – capital makes that decision.

    Quo Fata Ferunt

  12. Dennis Williams says:

    The public sector did as promised and gave the furlough day. Unlike you who was making a very good salary in your Government post, most government workers make just enough to get by; living paycheck to paycheck. A furlough day won’t affect the higher ups as much as the little guy. Maybe you should be asking the PS 30 and above to give a furlough day and leave the small guy alone. Surely during this time (furlough days) government should have come up with other means to help the public purse instead of just relying on this furlough day.

    • Loquat Tree says:

      No one has mentioned taxing rents. IMHO this is an area whre Bermuda is promoting inequality and allowing the wealth gap to continue unhindered.
      Why should person X pay the same land tax, based on an ‘estimated’ rental income, when he doesn’t rent out his property, while his neighbor receives rent for 1, 2 or more houses or apartments and pays the same land tax, which is often just passed on to the tenants.
      Yes, I agree this could be inflationary in some respects, but the rise could be a very small percentage of the actual rent and would still add a lot of revenue. Maybe it’s time to look at this one. Those with more than 1 property are more likely to be able to pay a little more.

  13. Ringmaster says:

    What has not been said is the fact that Government revenue has to grow by around 50% without expenditure cuts. It needs 25% just to balance the expenses/revenue then another 25% to start paying down the debt. In any economy, including Bermuda, that is unachievable and so any talk about saving $35m is a band aid on a gaping wound solution and might stop the blood flowing but won’t heal the wound. The OBA has to take the unpopular and vote losing approach to save Bermuda for the majority. The longer it is put off the worse it will be for Bermudians. Serious cuts in expenditure has to be the start while creating an investor friendly environment, and that includes tax breaks.

  14. boogiedownproductions says:

    Mr Ball can you honestly say and think all you wrote is good. As a former Civil Servant I remember you made a good salary and when you left did you think it was a good idea to replace your seat.
    If we are in that much financial hardship tell us the public why your party is still allowing hiring to continue. All you OBA people keep blaming the BTUC say they are hurting their members and the Public purse but have you taken a pay cut from your Senate check. Lets start with you and hopefully your collegues will join and give up their government salary as well. All good things start from the heart.

    • Unbelievable says:

      Hasn’t there been a hiring freeze sine the PLP left? Yes I think there has been. And I believe the recent industrial action resulted in a further hiring freeze except in certain cases. Your argument is wrong.

  15. Triangle Drifter says:

    Where does this crazy notion come from that Bermuda is somehow entitled to IB profits? Whoops….said it myself. They think that they are entitled, even thought they have done nothing. The shareholders, who have taken the risk, don’t deserve to reap what they have sown in their selfish worlds.

    These profits were not earned in Bermuda. What makes these people think that Bermuda deserves any share of them?

    IB pays taxes, employs people who in turn circulate money throughout the Island. They donate millions to charity. They get out & donate labour to charity or Bermuda as a whole. When was the last time a Government Department did a railway trail cleanup or painted a seniors home without expecting anything more than a thankyou?

    Leave IB alone. The last administration did more than enough damage to Bermuda’s reputation as a desirable place to be for IB.

  16. For real says:

    Put the PLP back in control of Goverment and let them fix the problem

  17. Remind me says:

    Remind me how much money is owed by the private sector for failing to pay oayroll tax and social insurance tax contributions? I keep hear all this rhetoric that the unions and civil servants are to blame but it seems those righteous private companies aren’t pulling their weight either!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      All very well lamenting unpaid taxes but if those companies went broke & out of business, what are you going to do? There is no money in a broke company no longer conducting business.

      If they still exist & are hanging on by their fingernails & keeping up with current taxes, what do you want to do? Take them to court & force them to pay the back taxes knowing the real risk of putting them out of business, in which case they won’t be paying any future taxes?

      Back taxes owed are peanuts to the overall debt, the service of it & the payroll of the bloated civil service.

      • Dennis Williams says:

        um..so by extension in your own words sort of… “but if those FAMILIES went broke & out of THEIR HOUSES what are you going to do?… FULOUGH DAYS FOR INDIVIDUALS are peanuts to the overall debt, the service of it & the payroll of the civil service.” look the bottom line is the OBA were elected to get us moving out of this debt crises and all they can come up with is to give concessions to the rich and take money from regular workers who can least afford it. Not good enough. They need to do more or admit they cannot and do not have answers.

        • Creamy says:

          Maybe you lot could offer to give up your 14 weeks sick leave and 6 weeks vacation.

          But no. You want it all. You are “entitled” aren’t you.

  18. Truedat says:

    Why can’t they just borrow more money from China continue the party and don’t even worry with it!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      You would have to vote the PLP back in for that. Wait for it. When Bermuda defaults on the loan China will call it & OWN Bermuda.

      Explain that one to your children & grandchildren!

      It is bad enough that when they look back at Bermuda from 1980-2012 they are going to wonder’what were those people thinking? They destroyed the jewel of the Atlantic.’ They will be paying for the 2008-2012 PLP debt long after the current day PLP members are put in the graveyard.

  19. drunkenUrsula says:

    ok Vic lets be real I
    I was in your company over the weekend…No WAY IN HELL you wrote that article…lets be real dude…Another paid consultant wrote it…be kwel mate

    • stunned... says:

      what’s your point? do you think the greatest orators all write/wrote their own speeches? grow up and stop with your pettiness.

  20. tom cooke says:

    At some point the piper will have to be paid.. posture all you want OBA..PLP..BIU. . the 2B has to be paid back… if the OBA lose the next election it will fall on the PLP. .. and who ever…God help us all..

  21. boss says:

    Mr Ball and many others are correct when they call for a reduction in the numbers of government employees.

    It isn’t a difficult fix, simply place a freeze on hiring and send many of those govt employees on work permits home.

    I am reasonably sure that the number of work permit holders is approx 20% of the work force. There is lots of gold in dem hills..

    Let’s do it!!!

    • Creamy says:

      If you “send home” everyone on work permits, you think that solves tyevproblem, or makes it worse?
      Most nine year olds would get the right answer. Can you?

  22. Triangle Drifter says:

    The Ministers of each Department need to take charge & lay it down on the various Directors, department heads, whoever has done the hiring, get rid of X number of employees or YOU go.

    • boss says:

      If Rome is burning than we must secure the lives of Bermudians first. If there is going to be pain let it be on the backs of those that could make a living elsewhere.

      That was the thinking at a major law firm when they made redundancies and has been in play at hotels for decades.

      If you fire Bermudians and reduce social assistance than you are creating a perfect storm.

      The govt.has a decision to make and they must look to work permit holders first when making the very tough decisions.

      • Creamy says:

        No. They should look at the non performers first. That’s the way that is fair to the taxpayer.

    • boss says:

      Geesh – you start the budget balancing / debt reduction / getting rid of process with those that call somewhere other than Bermuda home.

      If not, why not?

  23. Govt. Worker says:

    Mr. Ball, I agree with you 100%. You hit the nail right on the head. I couldn’t put it any better myself even if I tried. As a govt. worker, I would much rather give up the one day per month than see any of my colleagues lose their jobs. I must admit, things get tight with the pay cut, but a slightly reduced salary is better than none at all. We have to be reasonable. I think the question should be put to a vote among the various union members (general membership). We might be pleasantly surprised at the result. Plus, it’s not like it’s just a pay cut; you actually get a day off (which can sometimes come in quite handy). Just my informed opinion. You don’t have to agree with it.

    • Tony says:

      Agree totally. No one from the Unions has seen fit to ask us, they just assumed. The folk who went on strike will always follow like sheep, they are not representative of the whole.

      • boss says:

        And we know that you are actually a government worker – how??

        Oh,and, no Bermudian needs to be fired until all work permit holders are sent home…

        70K ave salary x 20% of work force is 70 million dollars.

        • Govt. Worker says:

          Like I said. Give the general memberships the chance to vote on the issue. You will see that some govt workers are willing to sacrifice to continue to preserve jobs in our sector. I am a govt worker. I don’t have to prove anything to you.

  24. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    The first commentary by an OBA parliamentarian that I find flawless.

    I applaud the fact that you do not reach back to spray political toxicity over what went wrong. You deal with the here and now and the future in a dignified, rational, honest way moving forward.

    You have raised the bar in the discussion to an intelligent, non-emotional, politically neutral, insightful look at what it means to make a “shared sacrifice” for public servants.

    Michael Dunkley very carefully and intelligently made a good choice in you as a Senator.

    Valirie Marcia Akinstall
    London, England

    • boss says:

      This is a scripted speech that has Don’s touch all over it. Seen if before and it won’t be the last time.

      Dunkley made a good choice selecting someone that would allow another to speak via them.

      Also, would have loved to hear Mr Ball’s views when he was working ( earning an income ) in government.

      • Ringmaster says:

        @ boss. Not agreeing or disagreeing but do you really think all the “Opinions” in the name of Marc Bean were written by Marc? It happens all the time. It is called Politics.

    • stunned... says:

      i’ve never agreed with any of your posts until this one.

      while it doesn’t do any good to keep looking in the rear view and pointing out the obvious as to who/how Bermuda got into this financial mess nor does it benefit a country when the previous government and its supporters refuse to acknowledge its maladministration. until that happens, Bermuda will be at an impasse always wrestling with the same issue: why haven’t those who were at the helm of the shipwreck acknowledge and be held accountable for their role in it. i have to think a similar question is what continues to drive people to this very day to hunt down suspected nazi officers/supporters.

      when the acknowledgement is received then there is nothing more to say. we would have to then move on.

  25. Coffee says:

    I call BS .

  26. obasellouts says:

    ok lets me see something.

    The money Borrowed by the PLP had its own payment plan.

    The oba chose to refinance the loan to save money pushing the debt to 2 billion.

    How is the 2 Billion in debt the fault of the PLP. You can blame it all on the PLP all you like but the increase is YOURS oba.

    Suck it up

    You can spin it all you want but the increase is yours.

    Always trying to fool the people

    • inna says:

      Wow, and you say everyone else spins??

      This comment is the exact reason we find ourselves in this mess. No fiscal responsibility down to your own paycheck. How much have you saved during your career? Id bet $10k that you dont even have that in the bank!

      It seems that you are only trying to fool yourself mate! Move onwards and upwards, get out there and make your life better. Why wait for the government to give everything to you?

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      So you figure that because the OBA refinanced the loan that the PLP took out it is no longer the PLPs responsibilty that we are in debt. That loan has been paid so now the debt is the OBA’s fault.

      Gotcha.

      The fact that the civil service bloating under the PLP by 50% does not enter the equation. The fact that the 50% increase in staff of the Government under the PLP did not disappear along with the PLP does not enter your equation either.

      I take it that you are a business owner & understand how all of this works. I somehow doubt that.

      More than likely a civil servant who is waking up to the fact that your days at the taxpayers trough are getting short.

    • Do the Math says:

      They had to refinance and increase the debt to pay for the civil service that the PLP hired! PLP made promises they couldn’t afford to keep, and the OBA has to pay.

    • Unbelievable says:

      We were in debt 1.2 billion already by the time the OBA borrowed money. The PLP Govt were warned that those were unsustainable levels under the Paula Cox Premiership.

      This is a PLP created problem and now it’s an OBA problem to fix. The OBA had to borrow more money to keep the Govt running. Get your head out of the sand.

  27. hulktoo says:

    once again we have nothing but opinions and ideas. fair enough. When it is time to come together and (lets say) forward thinking, some way some how, we, as a whole allow ego, judgement, prejudice, hate, and much much more to take control. (place)
    why is this? we have such a learned behaviour that we cant see past our own shadows. We refuse to come out of our comfort zone to achieve what is necessary. We need to stop asking what government can do for us, be asking what we can do for ourselves (as a country) as a whole as a people.
    until next time, more to come………………..

  28. plp4life says:

    Supermarkets and retail stores are excempt from payroll tax so they can keep prices at a minimal, this has not happened. All supermarkets continue to raise their prices so take the exemptions away from them. There are also other areas that they can look at and get their quota before they can consider furlough days.

    • Do the Math says:

      How much do you think supermarket employee’s make? It pales in comparison to the extreme expensive of the oversized civil service.

  29. Silence Do Good says:

    The general public should stop vilifying the civil servant as this greedy monster who does not care about the country, its finances or the services they proudly provide.

    Civil servants are very astute to the problem of the country and the running of government. Remember it is their job to serve the government of the day, good or bad. It was the civil servant who took the furlough day to help balance the budget and would probably continue to take the day if the government did keep find monies to serve special interest groups.

    This is not an OBA or PLP stance. Politician on both sides of the fence serve special interest groups and care nothing for the common man. Remember civil servants are people with homes, families, children and bills to pay. What good does it do to put several hundred people out of work at this point in Bermuda? Less civil servant also decrease the revenue base of government and supplies less services. If government does not encourage more industry then the only thing Bermudians have left to get out of the hole is their land.

    To increase industry government has to provide incentives for foreign company to set-up shop. To do this is generally an affront to most Bermudians as we see our culture, lands and way of life deteriorate as we satisfy our basic needs of today working for the man. We can no-longer have our cake and eat it too, unless we take the hit in this generation and allow our property values to fall with huge mortgages. At some point we have to pay the piper for our greed or sacrifice our heritage to continue. What would you choose?

    • stunned... says:

      In response to:
      Para 1: – if civil servants were perceived as efficient, helpfil and productive the tax payers might have some respect for them.

      Para 2: i can’t thank the civil servants enough for their gracious sacrifice while the people who pay rgeir salaries have been losing jobs left and right while the lucky ones have taken pay cuts, work for no overtime and are subjected to the threat of outsourcing as well being held accountable.

      Para 3: what good is it for the taxpayer to pay for a premium for something and not receive value? high time the civil servants get a refresher course as to who puts money and food on their tables. most attitudes stink – they act as if they are doing the taxpayer a favor – does Customs come to mind? they are sure biting the (my) hand that feeds them.

      if you want the Bermudas government to foster and encourage new industries , then have a chat with your immigration buddies and impress on them the necessity to roll out the red carpet, not the unhelpful bureauratic red tape.

      Para 4: the first and second sentence should have no bearing on each other. The Bermuda government provides the necessary incentives to encourage business. the last I checked, the Bermuda government is not asking its people to do anything illegal, immoral or unethical so how does this impact Bermuda’s culture?

      you are correct, we can not have our cake and eat it too. this means we all have to knuckle down and do more what is right for this country and in return our country will be able to do more for us.

    • Creamy says:

      Just as long as they keep their 14 weeks sick leave and 6 weeks vacation. That will make the ‘general public’ ( i.e. The people paying for all this) feel a lot better. Just make sure they get their 20 weeks a year off, full pay.

  30. plp4life says:

    PS. It has been since 2011 that they been excempt from payroll tax.

  31. yougotmekiddingme says:

    Reconsider: There are enough ways to generate income and not take it from the civil servants.
    1. All those English police officers who are getting GREAT pensions… shouldn’t be allowed.
    2. All contract workers could have a 10% (give back to Bermuda tax) added. If their job is 90k a year advertise it at 80k a year , there are ways to be creative.
    NO where else in the world you can operate more than 1 household. Only in Bermuda the majority of contract workers, work and send most of their money BACK HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • PBanks says:

      Not disagreeing with your suggestion here, but wouldn’t that open the discussion as to if Bermuda Police is understaffed and can’t get enough recruits locally?

    • Creamy says:

      Utter nutcase.

  32. Ed Case says:

    Why doesn’t B.M.A. just print more money, give it out to those who need it, and then nobody would be poor.

    Simple!! Da!

  33. Onion Roots says:

    OPINION: You are offering a some-what jaded perspective based on your previous professional experience as a civil servant and perhaps some personal gain. QUESTIONS: What further evidence do you have to suggest that private companies have made such sacrifices and will continue to contribute to Bermuda’s deficit? How does it become the responsibility of the civil servant (one) to consider the future of a further furlough at a point and time when other cost savings methods should also be be considered? Whilst it is fine to highlight your familial ties to the current government state, you’re also benefiting by receiving a pay cheque as an OBA Senator, so perhaps you should also consider taking a pay cut or furlough as well.

    What comes to mind in this instance is the folklore rendition of The Donkey in the Lion’s Skin:

    The Donkey once found a Lion’s skin which the hunters had left out in the sun to dry. He put it on and went towards his native village. All fled at his approach, both men and animals, and he was a proud donkey that day. In his delight he lifted up his voice and brayed, but then every one knew him, and his owner came up and gave him a sound cudgeling for the fright he had caused. And shortly afterwards a Fox came up to him and said: “Ah, I knew you by your voice.”

    MORAL: Fine clothes may disguise, but silly words will disclose a fool.

  34. new civil servant says:

    I dont know why people keep sayin we get six weeks vacation. I have less than 20 days per year only. Sick days cannot be carried over year to year.

    Bermieman thank you. I said the same things last week and was called a blogger due to me writing for the first time. I also suggested free bus fare 6 am to 6pm school days only and no free day care.

    Majority of us do not have bloated salaries and are struggling already without furlough days. No one cares about the civil servants who are on the lower end payscale. It really hurts me to see that the community
    I am a part of prefer us to struggle far more. Some of you are wishing pain and suffering on your own friends and family. Are those people going to help us with the bills, when we get fired as suggested? I tip your kids at grocery stores, give to charities, work through my lunch hour to serve the public without pay, same for lots of my colleagues. Yet we are assumed to be greedy etc. The biill collectors wants their money, working or

    • Creamy says:

      You get 33 days vacation once you’ve been there long enough. And I notice you don’t deny the 14 weeks sick leave.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Y’all just don’t get it do you! For most in the private sector 20 days vacation doesn’t even come after 20 years service. Health & pension benefits like the CS gets? Faggedaboutit!!!!

      Worried about getting made redundant? Welcome to the real world. The Government paycheck is not welfare. Well…hopefully not anymore.

      Don’t want to take a measely one day unpaid a month? Your choice. Everyone take days unpaid or people get fired. Whose job is going first? Last one hired or the most incompetent?

      Look around. There are going to be empty desks. The Government is broke, the private sector that generates the CS is hanging on by the fingernails, and money does not fall from the sky.

  35. Concerned Citizen says:

    Question for Senator Vic Ball, why did you leave the civil service? I know your OBA paymasters have attempted to rewrite your bio, but can you provide an oped to explain to the people of Bermuda WHY you left the CS?

  36. Concerned Citizen says:

    As a former CS whose job was to SPEND taxpayer funds(procurement officer), this is a little rich. Maybe Don Grearson or Magnus(the 12k guy) should have wrote this oped on behalf of another silent senator or OBA mp, as Vic Ball is not the appropriate choice. But hey, how would the OBA know as Vic is the apparent latest surrogate pick off the shelf?

  37. KTS says:

    In the “story” Noah was advising the people about his foresight and wisdom. Hence preparing for the forces of nature communicated through the divine laws and cycles, hence created by the Almighty. Today you are warning about something completely different and on the opposite side of the spectrum. The decline of a system built by man based on deceit, imbalance and inequality. Go Figure! The signs have always been “there” for those who have the eyes to see and ears to hear. In other words your correlation to Noah holds not value. Mr. Vic Ball can not serve two “masters”?