Column: MP Roban On OBA & Labour Relations

February 17, 2016

[Opinion column written by Walter Roban]

The OBA Minister of Home Affairs Michael Fahy needs to take responsibility for the outright destruction he is responsible for of labour relations in Bermuda.

The Minister appears to have had a fit of delusion about the impact the recent court case he instituted against virtually all of the Bermuda’s unions would have on the relationship government has with all the island Trade Unions.

Repeated action taken contrary to ILO Conventions and best international practice to foster good worker/employer relations by Minister Fahy and the OBA government appears to have washed away decades of effort to improve the Labour /Government relationship.

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Minister Fahy’s own actions have caused the suspension of the meetings of the Labour Advisory Council, Tripartite Committee, Labour Law Advisory Committee and damaged the prospects of all future discussions on the compensation of public sectors workers.

The Ministers actions to strangle the rights of Transport Workers, the government’s continued impasse with the Bermuda Police Service, the failure to act as an honest broker around last budget savings negotiations, along with the recently concluded court action brings us to conclude with have a crisis in Labour relations.

This could also jeopardize a smooth economic recovery for the island as well as a clear path for government to return to good fiscal position. Outside of a change of Minister the only real solution to this situation is for the OBA administration to take responsibility for this state of affairs. It’s our view that the OBA, due to a lack history of good Labour relations and a situation, the government must also consider the following:

  • 1] Submit to an independent representative or advisor to recommend a path to improve government/labour relations.
  • 2] Commit to seriously considering proposals from the BTUC and related organisations island wide to strengthen Labour laws to protect the rights of workers
  • 3] Commit strengthening provisions of the Employment Act 2000.
  • 4] Review of existing ILO Conventions and internationally recognized best practices for employer employee relations; drafting a plan for their incorporation in legislation and adoption of these practices by local employer groups.
  • 5] Strengthening of the Labour Department with better regulatory, investigative, ‎and enforcement powers and resources to assist in the management of the Labour environment of Bermuda.

These and other steps if considered and accepted by the OBA government might assist in improving worker confidence. Right now the OBA has a big credibility problem.

Since December 2012, Bermudas workers have had to deal with disparaging commentary, negative remarks and attitude from supporters of the OBA. It was not long ago an OBA official referred to Bermudians as “xenophobes”.

The OBA government under the current Minister Michael Fahy, have gained the reputation of being a Labour bashing, deceptive Government. This is one of the chief reasons the OBA was banned from the 2015 Labour Day March, the lack of trust and honest dealing.

Presently the Government is unable to operate as a custodian of Bermuda’s labour law and resolution framework, but our hope is that the situation is not beyond recovery.

If Bermuda is to have a recovery not only in its economic prospects but also labour relationship after a year of banishments, protests on Cabinet Grounds and court battles, the government must once again prove itself as an honest stakeholder with the representatives of Labour.

- Walter H. Roban

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Comments (16)

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  1. Bullseye says:

    Labour is in denial of the situation and the BIU is a PLP organisation. So “The OBA government under the current Minister Michael Fahy, have gained the reputation of being a Labour bashing, deceptive Government.” is the message you and the BIU send but is not the reality. Roban has no solutions but wants to bash his way back into power with propaganda. That is all this article is.

    • And the Chamber of Commerce and BTA are an U.B.P/oba organization !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Justin says:

    I know, he should just give everyone a raise just like you idiots did when Bermuda was sinking faster than the titanic!

  3. hmmm says:

    It’s Roban’s list of the week to make OBA seem something bad, when in fact they are not. The reason he need to be out there spreading this misinformation is because the OBA are doing too much of a damn good job.

    The OBA has a huge amount of respect for workers. To think otherwise is ridiculous.

    They also have a huge amount respect for all workers , not just unionized, hence them working to avoid interuptions to services.

    The OBA put in programs to reduce the number of Civil servants gradually by attrition. There were no slashed jobs.

  4. Bermyman says:

    The BIU is the reason we keep borrowing more money. They are the reason we are plunging further into debt, yet they want it all for themselves while the private sector pay with job losses and taxes.

    Time for the BIU to wake up and realize they are the scourge of Bermuda’s economic condition.

  5. hmmm says:

    I still don’t understand why members of the union haven’t realized that there are now laws and tribunals that protect us. The union is just sucking monies out of our pay packets. Are we stupid?

  6. Rhonnda aka Blue Familiar says:

    Frankly, you lost me at “outright destruction”.

  7. it says:

    I like all of Roban’s labour reform steps, and I really look forward to not paying for any of them.*

    *Yes, this is a joke, but he started it.

  8. Starting Point says:

    An opposition who refuse to work with the elected leadership of a country (mostly because they don’t like how the leaders ‘look’), refuse to sit down, spread false information and play on the ignorance of their members. Reject any initiative coming from the government, refuse to recognize the devastation they brought upon the country during their time in office, refuse to acknowledge any positive economic growth or signs of improvement….

    PLP = Republicans

  9. aceboy says:

    Yaaaawn.

    The PLP are simply noise makers these days. Nothing of any substance comes from them.

  10. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    I thinks Mr. Roban missed the part of the ruling where the judge also ruled that the union was out of line in its response to the government and that they are to now act within the law. As for labour relations, well perhaps the PLP would stop using the unions as an electioneering tool, that might help too. It funny, all of his suggestions are actually onesided solely to the benefit of unions, but labour relations needs to be balanced between employee and employer, and there aren’t that many balanced people running the unions right now anymore.

  11. blankman says:

    Mr Roban – I want to thank you for proving that Mark Twain was correct when he said:

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

  12. Navin Pooty Tang Johnson says:

    Walter’s turn today…..Walton yesterday,Diallo before that and so on and so forth….