“Dialogue Free Of Threats Of Labour Withdrawal”

March 10, 2016

[Updated] The Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed that meetings took place today and yesterday following correspondence from the BIU indicating that unless Government withdrew the proposed immigration legislation, they would call on “people to protest” by withdrawing labour on Friday.

The Ministry said they propose that a consultation committee “discuss matters of mutual interest between the Government and the Unions” such as a review of work permit policy to further ensure that Bermudians are given more training opportunities, and said they “look forward to constructive dialogue going forward, but do not believe such dialogue can happen unless all parties come to the table with clean hands free of threats of labour withdrawal.”

A Ministry spokesperson said, “The Ministry of Home Affairs can confirm that yesterday afternoon [9th March], following a request by the President of the BIU and President of the BPSU to meet, a meeting was held between the Minister of Home Affairs and the Attorney General with the Presidents of the BIU and the BPSU.

Screenshot of BIU President Chris Furbert’s letter to the Premier:

Fullscreen capture 10032016 70630 PM

“At that meeting a request was made of the Government to withdraw the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2016 [“the Bill”] from the Parliamentary Order Paper, failing which the Presidents’ expressed that some in the community may engage in undesirable activity.

“A healthy and fruitful discussion ensued and the Government was of the view that the meeting was productive in that a better understanding of both sides’ views was expressed.

“At the conclusion of the meeting the parties agreed to another meeting today [10th March]. Both parties also indicated that they had no desire to see any form of unlawful action in the community.

“Earlier today a further meeting was held, although on this occasion Rev. Nicholas Tweed was in attendance.

“It is important to note that the Premier advised the BIU on 9th March 2016 that the Government was not debating the Bill on 11th March 2016 and never had an intention of doing so on that date [copies of correspondence attached]. The attendees were also advised that the Bill would not be removed from the Order paper.

Screenshot of the Premier’s response to the BIU President:

Fullscreen capture 10032016 71141 PM-001

“The Government proposes that that the Bill will be debated this session, and should the Bill pass, the implementation date would be later in the summer.

“The Government also proposes that during the interim period between passing the Bill and commencement, a consultation committee will be struck to discuss matters of mutual interest between the Government and the Unions which could include but not be restricted to a living wage, review of work permit policy to further ensure that Bermudians are given even more training opportunities and dealing with concerns about the use of low paid guest workers over Bermudian workers.

“The Government believes this will assist in ensuring that Bermudians get every opportunity in their own country.

“The Government is always willing to listen. There are many issues that are affecting our community, but it is our belief that this legislation is the right way to go and the right thing to do. To that end, we look forward to constructive dialogue going forward, but do not believe such dialogue can happen unless all parties come to the table with clean hands free of threats of labour withdrawal. ”

Update 8.31pm: Shortly after this was posted, the People’s Campaign issued a statement “calling for an island-wide withdrawal of labour on Friday March 11th, 2016 as a show of people power and island-wide solidarity appealing to the Government to withdraw its intention to table the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2016.”

The letter from the BIU to the Premier follows below [PDF here]

The response from the Premier to the BIU follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (53)

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  1. About Time says:

    Dunkley get your facts correct. You can debate the bill tomorrow you are just scared.

    Don’t worry, people aren’t moving.

    • Come Correct says:

      What about that 15 million dollar forgiveness? Since this has absolutely nothing to do with unions, if they strike I would crush them with their own debt.

      • Charlie says:

        Disappointed because thought the OBA had grown a pair.

        Let them strike illegally, arrest and fire the lot of them.

        If they get violent, arrest the lot of them.

        It doesn’t seem that tough to me.

    • Derp says:

      Which part of explaining it was incorrect for them to believe debate would be on Friday the 11th from “…House Rules state a Bill can only be debated after an internal of seven days following the date of tabling has elapsed.” in the letter to Chris Furbert you could not grasp?? Now who needs to get their facts correct?

      • Davie Kerr says:

        I think it should be “interval” rather than “internal”, but at least he got the date right!

    • Wonder Why says:

      Interesting…. Isn’t Tweed applying for status?

  2. BLIND SHEEP says:

    OH ***** OFF BIU!!!!

    why does not the Union provide training for their members like unions aboard do. Always want a free ride and someone else to do it for you.

    • Frank says:

      Call back all uk passports from bermudians living and working in uk
      Then level field for talks

      • Coffee says:

        I agree , maybe the UK had to cowtow to the demands of the EU , BUT NOT SO BERMUDA . We demand term limits and BERMUDIANS FIRST IN EVERYTHING IN , OF BERMUDA AND BY BERMUDA , BERMUDA !

        FIVE YEAR TERM LIMITS ONLY …. NO RENEWALS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE !

      • rhonda says:

        Yes and have the UK pay reparations for all the free Labour they received.. And level the playing field..

      • Proud CBA ALUMNI says:

        I understand what you are trying to say but this is an ill comparison… Bermuda pays england every year. We are under british laws so its our right not our priveledge. Where as living in and working the us or Canada on a work visa and/or marrying a partner will be equivalent to whats going on in Bermuda. I neither agree or disagree because iunderstand that immigration issues are a double edge sword. (Reasons why most countries are facing the SAME issues).

    • Edmund says:

      And for that matter, why doesn’t the union representative on the immigration work permit panel keep track of their members that are unemployed to make sure they are not approving a work permit for a position that one of their unemployed members would want?

      • Pete says:

        The BIU did`nt balk when the PLP were granting that record amount of work permits for foreign workers during the 14 years of running the government ??

        • Ian says:

          You mean when the economy was running at its peak?? Dear me, what a shocker huh?

          • hmmm says:

            Facts are facts…Drawing the same logic….The BIU does not support Bermudians by allowing these PLP driven work permits to go through.

            you are just a sucker Ian, bought in by the rhetoric, bit simple aren’t you.

            Not a shocker huh!

      • rhonda says:

        The Union was removed from the immigration panel by the oba…

    • deborah says:

      OH YOU ….OFF TOO BLIND SHEEP! I’m very thankful as a Bermudian for the BIU and the BPSU and the representation they have provided to the Bermudian people for many years! Thank goodness we have a voice with the Unions!

  3. Noncents says:

    Sounds to me like the OBA are showing a willingness to tackle this topic with bi-partisan input.

    I fear that the leaders of the collective opposition (PLP/BIU/BPSU and Tweed) will continue to add little to the debate and threaten disobedience should they not get exactly what they want- despite being the opposition.

    I just hope the OBA doesn’t cave to those that would see the island burn in order to rule the ashes.

  4. The 3rd political party says:

    Looks like there are 3 political parties in Bermuda. Although one can rarely say this, BIU handled matters more amicably than PLP…smh

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Nope still 2, the BIU is just the puppet organization of the PLP.

  5. Shag says:

    How the hell does rev tweed get involved in this

    • Noncents says:

      @Shag

      I agree. It baffles me. Nobody elected him. He has never added anything remotely constructive. I dont understand why anyone would ever pay him any mind.

    • somuchless says:

      And to top it off, he’s a reverend. And as a reverend what is he doing getting involved in politricks. Blows my mind.

  6. Family Man says:

    Should have got that injunction from the court.

  7. Tom Cooke says:

    You know… I would love to hear a recording of these ” frank” and ” ernest” discussions. .. I bet there is some good healthy cussing …

  8. Izzypop says:

    At least they are talking. That’s a start. Now if they could only get a sensible PLP minister to join in and discuss more with out any outside nonsense. I sure hope these meetings were taped so there is no I didn’t say that.

  9. Hey says:

    Once again Chris Furbert and Rev.Tweed threatening a strike for their political cause.

  10. Lois Frederick says:

    On the surface this sounds like a small step forward. The govt made it clear of their intentions to move ahead with this bill and reminded to Unions of their legal position regarding unlawful work stoppages. The unions do not want to held culpable of that outcome, as detailed I the recent court ruling. I hope they can pass this bill on Monday and then have productive meetings that help all of Bermuda going forward. I think the Govt was probably very happy to finally have a real dialogue with at least one group on the opposing side, it has been months of no talking with the unions. On this particular issue, the plp’s refrain has grown old and prevented any progress, as both sides dug their heals in. We must all remember that the govt is in the driving seat and the unions were reminded of that yesterday and today. That doesn’t mean that they can’t have any input, but they will not stop the govt from doing what they believe has strong support and will improve Bermuda’s prospects.

  11. Bermuda Jake says:

    This is not democracy.

    The OBA are fueling this by capitulating to the Unions on this issue. If the action called for is illegal then it should be treated as such and put before the courts.

    • Pete says:

      The Court is not the answer, daily FINES, hit the BIU / Unions in the pocket
      Much like a Taft /Hartley bill.

  12. LOCAL RAT says:

    Mr C Furburt. In your manifesto i see “and the PEOPLE of Bermuda” Well I am one of those and I can assure you that you ( and for that fact your associated groups ) do NOT speak on my behalf thus I demand you remove that from your statement or I will pursue other means of restitution.

    • Pro-Status Onion says:

      Totally agree with you!

    • Johnny says:

      Nor does the premier and his foggies speak for me when they say that Bermudians want this bill. I demand that Fahy and Dunkley remove this bill.

  13. Warrior says:

    Chris not one day we need to stay out …..

  14. Pete says:

    The Union letter has the wrong year on it what a bunch

    • Born Here, Raised Away says:

      And wrong date the first time too! March 12th is a Saturday.

    • King Jammys says:

      What a mess…….how sad. Wrong year…..and Friday is March 11th…….

    • Nanny Pat says:

      And the wrong day. #fail

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      Just noticed that… so it took them over a year write this letter after meeting on a subject that didn’t exist until a month ago… or was he just lazy and cut and pasted from an old threatening letter.

  15. mmm says:

    It is time for a committee to look very closely at the high number of peopl e on work permits, and to look at each category, i.e. 300 nurses, 4oo lands capers, 500 teachers, 1000 accountants, 2000 chefs,front desk staff,waiters ,chamber-maids, 300 vehicle mechanics and body shop persons. Because a clea ner has been here for 16 years, should he soon be considered a long term resident, and at 20 years–a permanent resident, thus entitled to Bermuda s tatus. When the roll-overs began, was there a very thorough examination by Immigration that the employer made serious efforts to employ locals. Cause if Immigration did a now and then close examination of renewals than they have failed to do their jobs, its real that simple.

  16. Wow says:

    I am Bermudian and I DO NOT support the Peoples Campaign.

  17. Enougj says:

    Friday March 12th, 2016 doesn’t even exist Furbert.

    Shame the same thing can’t be said about you.

  18. Rhonda says:

    So after you take care of the foreigners…. You’re willing to sit and consult on the below mentioned note worthy proposals to benefit Bermudians… and I have a Brooklyn Bridge to sell you…

    why not do then together…..

    “The Government proposes that that the Bill will be debated this session, and should the Bill pass, the implementation date would be later in the summer.

    “The Government also proposes that during the interim period between passing the Bill and commencement, a consultation committee will be struck to discuss matters of mutual interest between the Government and the Unions which could include but not be restricted to a living wage, review of work permit policy to further ensure that Bermudians are given even more training opportunities and dealing with concerns about the use of low paid guest workers over Bermudian workers.

    “The Government believes this will assist in ensuring that Bermudians get every opportunity in their own country.

  19. butwhy says:

    I feel sorry for the seniors and the kids because of people who are selfish with hidden agendas. I wonder how PLP, BIU,BPSU are going to create jobs when they do not want job creaters.
    Govt workers abuse time anyway this is just an excuse to freely do so.
    I think the British govt should withdraw the passports they gave Bermudians.
    What about the majority who want immigration reform….what about their rights too? How does that work?
    PLP works on people’s ignorance and when in power…..nothing productive.
    Be wise Bermudians vote for people who want to make this place a better place.

    • Johnny says:

      What is the purpose of bringing in job creators if they will not hire Bermudians?

      • Sayso says:

        You can’t get employed in a job you are not qualified to do. Plenty of opportunities for growth….but you have to be willing to study to be employable.

  20. Not BPSU says:

    BPSU has not released a statement asking their workers to withdraw services or be guided by their conscious.

  21. J Wilson says:

    I employee over 20 bermudians myself. I am bermudian.
    I’m ready to pack my bags. Be very careful what you wish for.