Opinion: MP Leah Scott On Union Operations

February 20, 2015

[Opinion column written by OBA MP Leah Scott]

The Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU] is what is known as a general trade union and is affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation, and Public Services International. The Bermuda Public Services [BPSU] is also a trade union.It was founded in 1952 as the Bermuda Civil Service Association, and changed its name to BPSU in 1971.

The BPSU is also affiliated to Public Services International and Union Network International.

Every organization needs funds to operate, and unions are no exception. The members of the unions are required to pay union dues and these dues are utilised primarily to pay for, among other things, the salaries and benefits of union leaders and staff, and, more importantly, to accountants, who analyze the books and records of the unions to ensure that the funds [i.e., members’ dues] are being used in the appropriate manner.

Bermuda’s unions are governed by the Trade Union Act 1965 [the "Act"]. The Act essentially sets out what unions are required to do by law. Within the Act are various matters that the unions must comply with such as making provision to provide for how members’ dues are invested and for an annual audit of the accounts.

In addition the Act requires that general audited statement of the receipts, funds, effects and expenditure of every trade union registered under the Act SHALL be submitted to the Registrar before the first day of June in every year.

My research indicates that the last time the BIU filed their General Statement of the Income and Expenditure Funds and Effects was for the period 1 October, 2010 to 30 September, 2011.

In fact, in the cover letter of the Independent Auditor’s Report to the members of the BIU prepared by Moore Stephens & Butterfield on 18 December, 2012, it was stated that “The Union is not in compliance with this requirement for the years ended September 30, 2010 and 2011.”

The last audited statement of the financial position of the Bermuda Public Service Union was as at 31 October, 2010. Again, Moore Stephens & Butterfield said, in their letter to the BPSU dated 11 January 2012, that “The Union is not in compliance with this requirement for the years ended October 31, 2009 and 2010.”

Since financial statements for both the BIU and the BPSU are to be filed with the Registrar before the first day of June in EACH and EVERY year, and neither union has done this for some time, it is clearly evident that both unions are out of compliance with the Act, as well as their own constitutions.

Members, is it acceptable to you that your unions, who you pay dues to every month, knowingly and willingly disrespect their governing legislation, putting its members and the respective unions themselves at risk?

In a news article dated 20 August, 2014, BIU President, Chris Furbert said “… the BIU has to file audited returns, and we’re up to 2011, we’re doing some work on 2012, so you’re able to go to the Registrar and get a copy of those statements. That’s about all I can tell you as it relates to our budget.”

I have copies of the latest BIU and BPSU financials filed with the Registrar, and I will reiterate that the last audited report in respect of the BIU’s accounts was filed with the Registrar was for the period 31 October 2010 and for the BPSU it was for 31 October 2010.

In that same 20 August, 2014 article, Mr Furbert was asked for the BIU’s budget details. He replied: “I don’t want to tell you what the BIU’s annual budget is — we have the treasurer, a budget is presented to the executive board, that budget is taken to the general council and we discuss it, as to whether or not it’s feasible…”

Amazingly, when it comes to the salary of union employees, particularly those at the top, Mr. Furbert would not reveal the wages of top officials, but said they were: “comparable to any other organisation like us.” Mr. Furbert added: “I don’t think the wages here are excessive, because bear in mind that the hours of operation here for the organisers and official staff is from 9am, until.”

Mr. Furbert continued, saying “…the wages of the top officials are not set by the executive board. They are set by the general council…so any time we look at having a wage increase, that has to go before them. We don’t give ourselves increases.”

If, as Mr. Furbert says, the organization truly belongs to the members, how come the salaries of the President, General Secretary or any of the other top officials cannot be disclosed to the members, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, how come the members do not have a say in the amount the President or General Secretary or the entire executive should be paid?

After all, BPSU and BIU members, it is allegedly your union and it is your money that pays the salaries of the top officials.

If you are a union member, do you know what you’re paying for? Are you getting what you pay for? Do you think your unions exercise democratic principles and allow you to freely participate? I think perhaps not, and let me tell you why.

Mr. Jason Hayward recently quit his civil service job to take on the full-time, paid post of President of the BPSU. In a letter from Mr. Hayward to the BPSU members, dated 2 February, 2015, Mr. Hayward stated that “as the Union was under a real threat”, a decision had been taken to appoint a President, and that it had been determined that he was the best person for the job.

Perhaps this is his reward for the outstanding role he played in the recent illegal industrial action.

Mr Hayward goes on to defend his appointment to the post by citing Article XV of the BPSU’s Constitution which says that the General Council, along with the General Secretary shall have the right to employ such staff as it deems fit to carry out the work of the Union and shall fix such salaries and benefits that are remunerative.

Mr. Hayward proudly states that while he has received many well wishes and congratulations regarding his appointment, the decision to appoint a President was not about him, but about what was best for the organization.

He then patronizingly says that in upholding the true “tenants” of democracy there would be an emergency meeting of the members on Friday, 13 February 2015 at 5.30 so they can participate in this “historic” decision.

Mr. Hayward concludes his correspondence by urging the BPSU members to come out and exercise their democratic right. Well, it seems to me that in this instance, the vote of the BPSU members was really irrelevant.

Mr Hayward is ensconced in the position of President and has assumed that 1] that all BPSU members are in agreement with the appointment; and 2] that they will all vote for him.

As of 2010 there were 3,664 BPSU members and on the vote on Friday less than 350 members voted [less than 10%] and only 274 voted for the positon to become full time.

Democracy is a participatory form of governance where people are able to exercise their inalienable rights and directly elect their term-limited representatives [before they are appointed, I might add]. Sounds to me like Mr. Hayward is increasing his power, while decreasing the freedom of choice of the people.

Although spouting that he is a proponent of democracy, Mr. Hayward appears to be a proponent of a system of government by one person with absolute power. That would be called autocracy, Mr Hayward.

The BPSU constitution also states that the General Council and General Secretary fix the remuneration and benefits package, therefore, I am sure that there will be no consultation with, or in fact disclosure to, the BPSU members in regards to Mr. Hayward’s salary.

From the 2010 BPSU financials, a total of $1,182,493 was spent on salaries, a total of $1,832,590 was spent on expenses [including salaries] with membership dues being $2,089,576. So the BPSU net revenue in 2010 [excluding other income from things like bar receipts] was $256,986.

If Mr. Hayward is added to the BPSU payroll [at, one assumes, a minimum salary of between $75,000 to 100,000], then there is not much of your membership dues left.

The leaders of your unions flagrantly not complying with their own internal or external governing legislation, yet you are expected to abide by their rules and do as they say. Surely, there is something wrong with this picture.

- Leah Scott

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Comments (84)

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  1. Coffee says:

    MP Leah Scott , with all due respect , your cheap attempt at divide and conquer is just that ,MADE IN CHINA CHEAP !

    • Typical says:

      Coffee, as usual, you resort to ad hominem rather than addressing the facts outlined in the article.

      Perhaps this is because the facts directly contradict your agenda?

      • Coffee says:

        Excuse me but , as someone who understands THE ART OF WAR it is my duty to cast a strong beam of light on the subliminal undertones of the stinking fish that this particular MP is selling as choice catch of the day .

        • hmmm says:

          So you are just playing games in order to win for you…great…to hell with the workers, to hell with the people, it’s all about you !!!!

          SMDH

          How about getting answers for the workers from the unions re the accounts, re the salaries, re the short notice on the BSPU vote.

          You are PLP through and through, it’s beginning to show that the PLP is not for workers and is no Labour party.

          • Coffee says:

            I’m not PLP nor am I the Union , I am Coffee , something your mother enjoys every morning !

            • Hmmm says:

              Liar

              • Coffee says:

                No , no , MP Leah Scott is by profession a lawyer , not a liar !

                • Hmmm says:

                  See there you go distracting again.

                  Do you think the workers, who pay the unions wages, deserve answers to the questions raised by Scott Yes or NO?

      • Mockingjay says:

        I wonder how her For-Fathers feel after sacrificing their lives so she could live comfortable for fighting against the ENTITY that oppressed them and using her.

        • Mockingjay says:

          While you are concerned about Mr. Hayward’s salary are you gonna mention the CEO of the B.T.A making $1,000 a F!@#ing DAY.

          • You're FIRED says:

            Hey everbody didn’t the last Premier fire this woman as a Minister. She’s must be trying to make herself stand out in the crowd again. :)

            • Mockingjay says:

              Recycling rejects.

              • hmmm says:

                All this distraction from the PLP cronies.

                You are letting the workers down.

                Disgusting.

                • Mockingjay says:

                  This is a distraction from the budget.

                  • Hmmm says:

                    No its not it is an issue that needs resolution from the union.

                    Why haven’t the accounts been filed?
                    Why was so little time given as notice before the BPSU vote ?

                    Why wont the unions answer these questions.

                    Are the workers suppossed to swallow whatever their told to and shut up?

                    • Impressive says:

                      interesting time for you to start showing empathy for the workers.. smdh

                    • hmmm says:

                      @ Impressive

                      WOW

                      Do you think the Union should do their job and file their audited accounts ???? Y/N

          • .... says:

            Wow Mockingjay you really can’t get over it can you?

            No matter how many times for bring it up on various news articles no one really cares. At the end of the day most of us realize that in order to get the best you have pay top dollar.

            • Coffee says:

              Sooo.. How did you arrive at the conclusion that Mr.Hanbury is the best ? Is it because the OBA told you so ? Are you allowed to think for yourself or is it natural for you to allow your betters to think for you ?
              For the love of Bermuda many people , both local and foreign could / would get the same results and better for far less then Mr.Hanbury is banking .
              Thanks Mockingjay for reminding us daily of where the OBA is selling us short in expensive fashion !

              • Typical says:

                There is a difference between loving Bermuda and wanting the best and actually having the experience and ability to achieve it. In fact, it is likely better to appoint someone with an objective point of view rather than someone who just loves Bermuda.

                • .... says:

                  Well said Typical. You took the words right out of my mouth.

                  @Coffee – My Betters??? Please explain that one to me since you have no clue who I am, what I do, where I’ve been or how I think.

                  • Coffee says:

                    Well , I’m sorry but by past experience , Mr. Hanbury is getting renumeration way above his ability for this role ! Of course I expect you to disagree because most likely he may look like you .

                    @…. Says … Stop posting . That way you won’t come across as a person who admires their betters !

                    • hmmm says:

                      What experience is that?

                      Also please explain what that has to do with the Union no filing accounts.

                    • Jus Wonderin' says:

                      How do you know he’s getting “renumbeation” above his ability LOL. Do you have a business degree, have you researched what people in his position get paid outside of Bermuda, who do you think would be better suited, how much do you feel he should be paid, etc. I could go on for days but you will not/or won’t be able to answer my questions, you’re just hear to stir up ****!

    • J says:

      I am a BPSU union member… and I must say, many union members have the same sentiments.

      The hypocrisy of calling a meeting on Thursday afternoon for Friday at 5:30pm, knowing full well that the majority would not be able to attend, but going on “strike” because the Government gave us a weekend to determine if we were going to accept the furlough day, is laughable. I was the only person able to attend from my department.

      And the meeting was a sham. From opening with a prayer citing that “God made this historic event possible,” etc. while members “mmmmm’d” and nodded in agreement. (I just had to look around and shake my head). To members who had valid concerns, being shouted down. Then a ‘wildcat’ motion was made to have the vote, and seconded, which essentially silenced anyone who still had concerns.

      It’s apparent, the battle is not between us and government, the fundamental battle is between those who have power, and those who do not.

      I voted “No”

  2. Do the Math says:

    Is the BPSU not subject to Roberts Rule or Order?? After reading the above it would seem as though 350 people out of 3600 is not a quorum. Does this not mean that the President has allowed the union members to feel as though they have voted for something that he was either promised or just going to do anyway? I would urge the members to ensure that the vote was valid….. which is something that I would expect the president of the organisation to know!!

  3. Chris Famous says:

    Oh here comes the lady in red with her divide and conqour theory.

    Well was she not the same lady who stated

    February 10, 2015
    “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 interests”

    So she calls thousands of Bermudians “Selfish” last week.

    This week she wants to play the great defender of the same people she called selfish?

    • SMH says:

      So Chris, what you’re saying is it’s OK if we do it. We lot are entitled and therefore are not required to be transparent in follow the rules BUT we will jump up an down, scream and through all our toys out of the crib if we think you are. Got it. SMFH

      • hmmm says:

        Chris , why the sexist references to lady and lady in red.

        Leah Scott is a person doing a job. She is working. She raised very valid questions, which still have not been answered by the unions, by you or by anyone.

        Why are you trying to discredit this person ? Do you show the same disprespect and belittling gestures to other women ?

    • Sandgrownan says:

      You count about as well as the BIU. thousands? Really?

    • BT Checker says:

      Ok so in response Mr Famous you simply call her a hypocrite and make some derogatory remark about her being the “lady n red”.

      But have you any response to the position she puts forward? Have you any comments on those? Or, in your silence, do you agree with some of the facts she lays out?

      I say facts because I believe it to be the case. Happy for you to prove wrong/say otherwise of course.

      You need to up your game are stop with simple insults and deal with the substance.

    • e says:

      Apparently Chris “Redistribution of Power and Wealth” Famous doesn’t like it when other folks steal his thunder.

      It’s entirely possible that of the participants in last month’s “industrial” action were looking out for their own interests, as they perceive them, first and foremost.

      Leah’s point seems to be that the BTUC union leadership, contrary to the terms of the union charters, is even more self-interested, to the detriment of the people they are supposedly representing. The two positions aren’t mutually exclusive.

      • Truth Teller says:

        When Ms Scott starts calling for multi million dollar companies like Dunkley’s Diary and The Gibbons Group of Companies to start paying corporate income taxes; then, and only then will I start taking her comments seriously in terms of the Unions.

        Do you think she has the courage to do that?

        I don’t think so. She would rather carry water on behalf of you know who.

        Does she even personally write this stuff?

        • Typical says:

          Why should they have to pay more taxes to finance civil servants that aren’t needed?

        • hmmm says:

          what has this got to do with filing accounts and transparency with votes?

        • Jus Wonderin' says:

          LOL people make me laugh. Why Gibbons Group of Companies or Dunkley’s dairy?! Because you assume their rich and have millions and millions of dollars coming out of their pockets. If you actually called up Dunkley’s or Gibbons and asked them if they were making profits hand over feet in these times I think you’d be surprised at the answer, which is a no. So much gossip/assumptions/etc that fly around Bermuda without a care. Reach out to some of these people and ask for answers, you’d be surprised instead of hearing it from the person on the street.

    • hmmm says:

      She has stated facts…..The unions needs to be transparent and run properly and in compliance with the laws.

      Don’t you agree?

    • Typical says:

      The same as mentioned for Coffee:

      Chris Famous, as usual, you resort to ad hominem rather than addressing the facts outlined in the article.

      Perhaps this is because the facts directly contradict your agenda?

  4. SMH says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. It’s interesting that the unions and their counterpart, the People’s Campaign continually call for transparency while ironically being the least transparent entities of all. Chris Furbert’s salary should be public information.

  5. Chris says:

    Outraged. I can’t believe the truth!

  6. Confused OBA Voter says:

    I cannot for the life of me understand what the OBA stands to gain by attacking the unions.

    • hmmm says:

      Nobody is attacking the unions… I think members of the unions need to demand that their unions get their house in order…it’s the memberships money.

      • Mockingjay says:

        Well if its the memberships money let the membership deal with it.

        • Hmmm says:

          Why are you so keen to deny the workers answers ?

        • jt says:

          It’s the law dimwhit.

        • Creamy says:

          Where did that 17% increase they voted themselves go?
          The only people I know with a 17% increase is the BIU. Chris listened to Oprah…”pay yourself first”.

    • jt says:

      Are the unions legal bodies when tbey consistently and flagrantly fail to comply with the law and is any government or employer legally bound to recognize them?

    • Impressive says:

      I think its the fact that the unions have the numbers and resources to question the governments actions.. They call themselves capitalists, but want to shut down any one or group who questions their actions. pretty much.. Without the unions, they can go around and treat the working class any way they like without fear of conflict.

  7. watching says:

    The unions are private organisations and their salaries and financial info do not need to be public. Perhaps Ms Scott should disclose her salary for her job at Gibbons group of companies. In addition to all of her benefits. That would be interesting to see what her take home pay is, while she calls the union workers selfish.
    I had respect for Ms Scott but now I see her as a pawn in this political game and it is sad that she is allowing herself to be used in this capacity.

  8. dream big says:

    Jason must be doing something right for them to paint a target on him like this!
    Stick to your guns brother! You have my full support!

    PS
    Ms. Scott, you know what they say about assumptions.

    • Hmmm says:

      She stated FACTS. you are making assumptions

    • hmmm says:

      That’s just BS propaganda to make it seem like they are out to get him.

      Nobody is out to get anyone….members need to demand accountibility from their union…it’s their money that pays the unions wages.

      • Mockingjay says:

        Is she a Union member , if not than its none of her business.

        • hmmm says:

          So you agree the unions need to file their accounts and you agree the BSPU needs to investigate the short notice and legality within the constituional framework of the vote for Salary for the members of the union then.

          GOOD. what are you doing about it? Leah put out this article for the benefit of the workers, what are you doing for the benefit of the workers?

        • jt says:

          They are required to file audited accounts by law.

          You and other mouth breathers on here seem to to feel that is irrelevant.

          Each of you have been asked – all have been too cowardly to reply…..Do you feel the union should be required to comply with the law…yes or no?

  9. Jim Bob says:

    Whilst I would not say I am an OBA or a PLP supporter this opinion article really does not appear to be anything more than an attempt to stir the pot. At the end of the article I was left saying to myself “so what?” The members pay to be part of the BPSU and BIU and I am sure they are aware of the facts that were raised about; just like everyone else is aware.

    When one is left with that “so what” feeling after reading an article is it usually a sign of a poorly constructed argument that serves no real informative purpose.

    • hmmm says:

      Hardly Jimbob, what about the facts non filing, the turnout for the vote, the notice given for the vote and other facts.

      There is a group of people taking money from workers who claim to represent the workers, but won’t file up to date audited accounts.

      Workers deserve better than this. Don’t you agree?

  10. hmmm says:

    Scott pointed out facts. FACTS. FACTS, FACTS.

    There is no attack. That should come from the membership demanding accountibility of their money and complaince with their rules and the laws.

    If it were me, I would follow the letter of the law and shut them down until they are in compliance and can prove that the dues are being spent properly. the dues can be collected and held in escrow. If it turns out the Union can’t comply , the funds can be returned to the individuals who can vote to form a new union.

  11. LaVerne Furbert says:

    I doubt if Leah Scott wrote that column. Magnus Henagulph is really working for his paycheck. I wonder how much he is being paid. All OBA members should be asking what his salary is. But shame on Leah Scott for allowing her name to be attached to that column. She really has a very short, or selective memory.

    • hmmm says:

      Laverne FILE THE ACCOUNTS ALREADY ….

      THE FACTS are the FACTS. Yet you try and discredit Scott instead of addressing the failing to file audited financials. You sit there living off the workers pockets yet ignore the concerns raised.

      Shameful !

  12. LaVerne Furbert says:

    Also, what Leah Scott (and Magnus Henagulph) refuse to understand is the union members do know the salaries of their executive officers. Magnus should know that because he was once a member of the BPSU.

    • watching says:

      Ms. Furbert, they never let the truth get in the way of a good story!

      • hmmm says:

        So the lack of filed audited accounts is good enough for the workers, who are paying those who prepare the accounts wages is OK ? I think the workers deserve better. you obviously think the workers don’t deserve better.

      • FDR says:

        What is untruthful in the above article?

        • Just Curious says:

          You wont get an answer , you can tell how much it struck a nerve though .

    • hmmm says:

      Which goes to prove that Leah wrote the article, otherwise it would never have been raised. Surely

    • serengetiperson says:

      So does the public know what you’re spending the extra 17% on?

    • BT Checker says:

      Are you going to file the accounts? If not why not?

      Just answer the questions.

    • Marie says:

      Lavern Furbert. I work for a government department and I can say that I do not know the amount that any members of the BPSU are being paid. That information should be made public just as fast as they send out notices demanding memebers to come and vote for a President.

      • jt says:

        Where can Marie find this information Laverne?

        Why do you feel the unions are above the law? Are they even legal bodies after failing to comply for so many years? Do employers or governemnt even need to recognize them?

  13. .... says:

    Actually, they don’t. I’ve been a BPSU member for the last decade and never, ever got any answers to the questions I put my union about it’s accounts.

  14. desperate times call for..... says:

    It appears the OBA have mastered the art of pointing out tge flaws of others but ignore thier own short comings. Over the past few weeks weve seen op-eds from several forgotten ObA MPs in regards to the state of organizationswho oppose the performance or actions of the OBA. Is this thier new tactic i wonder….. is this something to distract from the finance ministers non creative budget or does the milkman have some other sinister deed or appointment on its way? I beg the OBA to focus in running the country and getting us back on track with regards to our tourism and IB product and refrain from these pointless divide and fool tatics

    • Hmmm says:

      Answer the questions

      Why haven’t the BIU accounts been filed?
      Why was so little notice given to BPSU members for the vote to pay the leader a salary.

      There is no mischief in those questions, they are fair straight questions, yes the unions won’t answer.

      The workers deserve more respect than this.

  15. Ex-member says:

    Ms. Furbert,

    Why hasn’t the Union been able to file their financials as required by legislation?

    Why hasn’t the credit union been able to file their financials as required by legislation?

    Why in the most recent credit union financials issued (y/e 2011 I believe) was it noted that the BMA has put restrictions on the credit union? What are the restrictions, what has caused them and has the membership been notified of these as of yet?

  16. Alvin Williams says:

    ‘The real enemy is the BIU’- The late UBP leader and finance minister Sir David Gibbons on the eve of the 1981 strike. The more things change ; the more they remain the same.
    The latest attack on the trade union movement by OBA MP leah Scott is straight out of their political father the United Bermuda Party’s play book. The apple does not fall far from the tree; in this case I am talking about the political apple the anti Bermuda OBA government represents and has manifest to be since it became the government. having failed to divide the workers of Bermuda by attempting to characterize government workers as some sort of privilege class; it now attempts in a crude way the divide the labour congress. This too will fail as the people of Bermuda clearly see who is fighting for their interests and that is not the one term anti- Bermudian herd mentality OBA government; no matter how many clones they sent out to do their bidding.

    • Ex-member says:

      No civil servant has list a job and their average salary is $18k higher than the private sector.

      That makes them a privileged class whether you like it or not.

      The unions want to bankrupt Bermuda for their members benefit. That is more anti-Bermudian than any other organization maybe except for the PLP who created our financial issues.

      Other than that do you actually have any rebuttal to the piece above? Or will you run away from the facts and rely on emotional nonsense as you usually do?

  17. Brotherhood says:

    Mis Scott – respect you for touching this kinda taboo from the upatee elders
    i agee
    what benefit do I get from what i pay out and get boxed around
    and hmmm… yeh we notise …
    the big union honchos they look aftr themselves super nice with dues increase

  18. Jr Smith says:

    tsk tsk Miss Scott, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

  19. Robert says:

    Leah scott i have lost all respect for you. Do not darken my doorstep again. Truthfully, i haven’t seen you since 2012.

  20. Self says:

    I am a BPSU member. Mr. Hayward, Mr Furber and the other union leaders could be paid a million dollars a year. It isn’t a job for the faint hearted, and as far as I’m concerned they’re worth every penny. Keep up the good job gentlemen, we appreciate you!!!

    • Jus Wonderin' says:

      Why? What do they really do for you that the next man can’t?! Also what do you think about Ms. Scott’s statements?

  21. jt says:

    I can only think of two reasons why the unions have not submitted financials for 5 years.
    - ineptness
    - something to hide
    Make your pick.