Premier Responds To U.S. Education Association

November 25, 2015

Premier Michael Dunkley has responded to the US-based National Education Association who wrote to him saying they have “serious concerns” regarding the Government actions with the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

“The Government has invited the Unions to continue discussions with us in an effort to resolve the matter prior to resorting to the Courts,” Premier Dunkley said.

“Unfortunately, the Unions have not demonstrated an interest in doing so. We remain open to discussions, under the belief that mutual discussions between the parties are the most effective means to resolve issues.”

The Premier said the Government is “committed to upholding its obligations under ILO conventions 87 and 98 regarding the rights of workers to freedom of association and collective bargaining.”

“Our actions serve this end, and we simply wish for the Unions to do likewise,” said Premier Dunkley.

Lily Eskelsen García, the President of the National Education Association, wrote to the Premier saying: “On behalf of the three million members of the National Education Association, I write to you with serious concerns regarding your Government and its actions with the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

“It has come to our attention that the Bermuda Government has issued a Notice of Hearing in Court, November 24-26, to the Bermuda Union of Teachers and to the other public service Unions in Bermuda. We hope that the Government will respect collective bargaining agreements as it acts on this.

“The Bermuda Union of Teachers showed good faith last January in working with the government to address budget shortfalls; this effort was largely ignored by you after budgetary solutions were mutually agreed upon between the government and the unions.

Ms Garcia said she hopes that the “Government and the Unions will continue to seek resolution prior to the court summons date, as well as to honor ILO conventions ratified by the Bermuda Government” and they “will be watching for positive progress in Bermuda.”

The Premier’s full letter to the is below:

Dear Ms. García,

I write in response to your letter of 17th November 2015 regarding the legal action between the Bermuda Government and the affiliate members of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, which includes the Bermuda Union of Teachers, your affiliate.

It is incorrect to suggest that the Government ignored discussions between the Unions and Government regarding budgetary solutions. The Government entered those discussions in good faith, discussed options with the Unions, and implemented those that were possible, including a hiring freeze and early retirement programmes.

I can confirm that the Government of Bermuda is committed to upholding its obligations under ILO conventions 87 and 98 regarding the rights of workers to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Our actions serve this end, and we simply wish for the Unions to do likewise.

You will no doubt also be aware that the ILO Principles on the Right to Strike, derived from ILO Conventions 87 and 98, et al, provide the prerequisites for prior notice, quorum, secret ballot, provision for the maintenance of essential service, among others, for the purposes of engaging in industrial action. These prerequisites were not respected by the BUT and other public sector unions in taking irregular industrial action in January 2015.

I further trust you would agree with the importance of conforming to Article 8 of Convention 87 which requires workers and organizations to respect the law of the land.

The Government has invited the Unions to continue discussions with us in an effort to resolve the matter prior to resorting to the Courts. Unfortunately, the Unions have not demonstrated an interest in doing so. We remain open to discussions, under the belief that mutual discussions between the parties are the most effective means to resolve issues.

Should you wish to discuss these matters directly, I would be more than happy to arrange for a convenient time for a telephone conversation.

The Hon. Michael H. Dunkley, JP, MP
Premier and Minister of National Security

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Comments (6)

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  1. Not good publicity for Bermuda.

    • Double S says:

      I agree. Wildcat strikes are never good for any country’s reputation or economic stability.

    • jt says:

      If anyone outside Bermuda cared (and they don’t) and if the information provided to the outside groups was complete and accurate (and it isn’t) explain why you think this would be bad publicity for Bermuda.

  2. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    Why are they concerning themselves with this when they need to clean up their own yard…there’s a brilliant documentary called “The dumbing down of America”…There is a reason for this but hey…who am I.

    • Kathy says:

      I would agree…are we all of a sudden a US territory???????

  3. Cow Polly says:

    Putting the record straight AGAIN!