Updating: BELCO Staff ‘Withdraw Labour’

October 19, 2018 | 104 Comments

[Updating] Members of the Electricity Supply Trade Union [ESTU] — who work at BELCO — met this morning [Oct 19] at BIU Headquarters, with the members seen leaving the meeting at around noon today.

Earlier this month, BELCO’s parent company Ascendant Group announced the “departure” of four senior executives — Denton Williams, Michael Daniel, Carol Ross-DeSilva & Zehena Davis — saying that ”two have resigned and two positions were made redundant.”

The four executives marked the second group of employees to leave the company recently, with three staff members having been made redundant last month.

On October 4th, BELCO workers gathered outside the building, and later that day Union officials confirmed that the ESTU “will be instituting a work-to-rule and demand the immediate reinstatement of the four qualified, displaced Bermudians.”

“This is the second time in the last 3 weeks that the ESTU had to call an emergency meeting with its members triggered by the displacement of Bermudians from the Company,” BTUC President Jason Hayward said.

“Over the past 3 years, approximately 20 qualified Bermudians were let go and the current actions of the Board and CEO seems to be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’ Workers are genuinely concerned about their job security and want clarity on the Company’s direction moving forward,” he added.

We will update as able with confirmed information about today’s meeting.

Summary Of Updates As Of 6.30pm:

  • BELCO workers spent the morning meeting at BIU
  • At around 1.15pm, it was announced they voted to withdraw labour
  • Workers gathered outside BELCO for the afternoon
  • At around 2.15pm, BELCO said “because of the lack of manpower” they “cannot guarantee full electricity supply to the island.”
  • At around 4.00pm, workers held another short meeting outside BELCO
  • At around 4.30pm, Minister Brown said the Ministry “will work to bring the parties together to achieve some resolution.”
  • At around 6.00pm Ascendant said they obtained a Supreme Court order directing ESTU members “to return to their full employment effective immediately.”

Ongoing Updates

Update 1.05pm: In an online post, BELCO said, “Our Customer Care Office on Serpentine Road is closed until further notice. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience.”

Update 1.27pm: Speaking at a press briefing just now, ESTU President Donald Lottimore said, “Our membership took a vote and as of right now, the work-to-rule has been halted and we are now withdrawing our labour, in order to make sure that the membership’s demands are met.”

When asked were they effectively on a strike, Mr Lottimore replied, “Yes, we are.”

Video of the press briefing

We have reached out to relevant entities for comment and clarification, and will continue to update as able.

Update 2.15pm: BELCO said “because of the lack of manpower” they “cannot guarantee full electricity supply to the island.”

A spokesperson said, “Ascendant Group Limited is, this afternoon, in receipt of a letter from the Electricity Supply Trade Union [ESTU] which states that the members have withdrawn their labour.

“This has an immediate impact on the operations of BELCO’s system. Because of the lack of manpower, and in order to ensure we can operate the plant safely, BELCO cannot guarantee full electricity supply to the island.

“In the case of outages, we will endeavor to maintain electricity supply to the essential services. As the industrial action continues throughout the day, our ability to maintain a reliable electricity supply is diminished and there is an increased likelihood of widespread outages.

“Medical Priority Customers should consider attending the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital to ensure they have access to the required care and resources.”

Update 2.32pm: The video below is of a live stream of BELCO workers gathering outside. It’s just a general look, there aren’t any speeches or anything happening that you need to stay pinned to watch, but just provides a general look.

2-hour live stream replay

Update 3.25pm: As you can see on the live stream, workers continue to gather outside. Some people driving across have been beeping and waving in support and flyers are circulating with the CEO’s face and a Canadian flag with text alleging that he wants to give jobs to the Canadians. According to BELCO’s outage map there are currently zero outages, and and we continue to await further comment from entities involved.

Update 3.48pm: The beeps in support from some, not all, but some of the commuters continue, one lady just slowed down and yelled out ‘Stand your ground’ to the workers.

Update 3.59pm: One sign seen

BELCO Bermuda October 19 2018 (3)

Update 4.11pm: We cut the live stream above as the workers went over to have a meeting.

BELCO Bermuda Oct 19 2018 (3)

BELCO Bermuda Oct 19 2018 (2)

Update 4.14pm: The meeting seems to have ended and we now see BIU President Chris Furbert speaking to ESTU officials

BELCO Bermuda Oct 19 2018 (4)

Update 4.34pm: Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown confirmed that the Ministry “had been in discussions with the ESTU.”

“This dispute has emphasized the importance of the issues at stake and where possible, this Ministry will work to bring the parties together to achieve some resolution,” he said.

Minister Brown also indicated that “discussions were ongoing and that further updates on any action taken by the Ministry would be provided.”

Premier David Burt termed Ascendant’s announcement regarding continued supply of electricity, “unhelpful, considering the need for both sides to work together in the best interests of Bermuda.”

Update 6.01pm: An Ascendant spokesperson said, “Ascendant Group Limited this afternoon obtained an order from the Supreme Court directing members of the Electricity Supply Trade Union [ESTU] to return to their full employment effective immediately.

“The order states that the ESTU ‘shall be restrained from contravening the Labour Relations Act 1975 by means of a strike or withdrawal of labour or any irregular industrial action short of strike which shall include picketing or any work to rule.’

“It is expected that ESTU members will comply with the order and return to work with immediate effect and normal operations will resume.”

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  1. aceboy says:

    It is funny, I have heard a whole lot on this matter from the YunYun, the employees and the PLP.

    The four people who I have heard NOTHING from are the four people who are central to this action. Two retired and two were made redundant.

    What do THEY have to say?

    • Really says:

      And why do you think that is aceboy? It was in fact 2 resignations and 2 redundancies. Try to use your intelligence to figure out why they haven’t spoken up.

      • aceboy says:

        Obviously it is to protect their “packages”.

        But they are the ones that need to take a stand if they want any sympathy at all from the people of this island.

        Do they support a strike or not? Don’t sit quietly and watch everyone else fight your fight and have businesses and the people of this island suffer without making a sound!

        • 441 says:

          it’s more than this one situation. Look at the climate of the island right now how Bermudians are being let go or made redundant and the work is being outsourced or new positions are being created with a different title and given to expat workers. Pay attention please.

          • Piddle Puddle says:

            Because you lot think you are so much better than you really are. Pathetic. Welcome to the WORLD Bermuda its all a fact of life, reality and business which very few of you could run effectively with the mind set you all have.

          • Love & Peace says:

            I agree just look at what is happening at the AME they are being lead by a foreigner!

    • frank says:

      I was a union member for over 40 years at another union
      the belco estu are wrong in this case simply because the workers that they are protesting about are not union members
      yes I understand what they are trying to do but their action is wrong wait until something effects your membership then and only then can you take this course of action.

  2. Y-Gurl says:

    Lots of Bermudians out 5here who want to work and wouldn’t try to hold the country hostage

    • Me Please says:

      Me Please needs a job and I WILL NOT JOIN the union. I will work hard and be on time, honest, reliable,respectful etc. Get my drift?

  3. ConcernedBermudian says:

    Get back to work. This is a disgrace. The people you want reinstated are not even union members.

    • Jt says:

      They are an essential service. This is now undoubtedly an illegal strike. Government must order them back or be seen as condoning illegal actions, which would be yet another nail in the coffin of business confidence.

      • Family Man says:

        This government has no fear of condoning illegal actions.

        Surely you don’t need a list after all these years do you?

      • Goose says:

        Government MP’s and Senators were there supporting the ETSU last week. This action has been encouraged by the Government, words of support from the Government aren’t needed at this point.

        • watching says:

          The government is encouraging the Board and the company to act in a fair manner and not to be removing qualified, experienced Bermudians.

          • sandgrownan says:

            Maybe they aren’t qualified (Peter Principle anyone?) and maybe they aren’t required anymore…it really could be that simple. Shock – maybe they are quite crap at their jobs. I don’t know.

            Are you saying that the Government should dictate how a business should operate? Because if you are, you’re effectively saying Bermuda is closed for business.

          • Goose says:

            Yep, offering encouragement while standing with the Union. Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe.

  4. Wahoo says:

    Why is BELCO apologizing? Shouldn’t the union be apologizing to us the people?

  5. So is this strike illegal?

  6. DeOnion says:

    Isn’t there meant to be 21 days notice of strike action?

  7. sandgrownan says:

    If the unions are successful, this will be the end for Bermuda.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      The ‘ending’ started in May of 1981.

      • Ya, de end of meeger wages.
        After 1981 we got RESPECT.

        • Question says:

          I don’t respect people like you. Just so you know.

        • Toodle-oo says:

          The late Sir David Gibbons made it clear at the time that Bermuda could not afford the demands that were being made.
          Are you old enough to remember what strangely happened to our cost of living and taxes in the following years ? Probably not .
          If you want to know why Bermuda is so outrageously expensive now just look back to May of 1981 .

  8. puzzled says:

    BIU/BELCO.
    Leopards never change their greedy spots.

    Your property will be useless in ten years.
    Doc Brown has left town and laughing like a clown.

    Sorry all you elderly folks.

    Curried suck rocks for all.

  9. facts of the rock says:

    saw this coming,pathetic muppets!

  10. Truthertz says:

    This must be a first. Union members striking for non-union members and also once again forgoing the 21 day notice period (which again ins’t a first).

    What is the point of Collective Bargaining Agreements if one side can persistently ignore them?

    • sandgrownan says:

      It proves you can’t negotiate with a union in good faith, so just assume they’ll behave badly. That should be the starting point.

    • Humphrey says:

      Ibet those that were made redundant are not looking to ok give that money back ask them

  11. WSP says:

    Just in time for happy hour

  12. Jt says:

    Only employers are expected to abide by a CBA in Bermuda. Didn’t you know?

  13. watching says:

    Industrial action is never convenient, but often necessary.
    The CEO and the Board seem to be acting in the worst interests of Bermudian staff and of the country.
    Funny how all the comments seem to be anti union, and are probably posted by people who’s benefits were obtained due to the fights of the unions. Funny how people forget…

    • sandgrownan says:

      Er no…two resignations and two redundancies first of all. Redundancies are a sad fact of life. You don’t get preferential treatment just because you’re an entitled Bermuda. With the resignations, perhaps you need to delve a little more into the back story.

      One thing is true, however, there will be negative consequences for this industrial action.

    • Mish says:

      Thank you!!! Well said!!
      I am not one to support wild cat strikes. However, I have watched this play out and fully support this strike. The current CEO and Board are not acting in the best interests of this country.

    • Jt says:

      It’s not a matter of convenience. It’s a matter of legality. Surely that should come first.

    • LRW says:

      Exactly

  14. aceboy says:

    Get back to work!!

    The supply of electricity is an essential service and the people you are striking for are not Union members and have remained silent.

    Get back to work!

  15. smh says:

    WE THE PEOPLE STAND WITH THE WORKERS.

    Enough of Bermuda being sold out to the interests of Canadian foreign workers at the expense of our own people. PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT. UNITED WE STAND. Ignore the trolls.

    • SMH says:

      You are 100% correct–Damned the foreigners–How dare they try to improve our economy and give our children opportunities –run them out we can fend for ourselves!!

    • sandgrownan says:

      Er…no we don’t

    • mole hill says:

      Oh NO NOT all of US WE the People stand with the workers. I for one don’t.

    • aceboy says:

      No support from this born Bermudian! Cut out the “We the people” nonsense.

    • Question says:

      We the people hate your guts. Hows that.

  16. bda guy says:

    Belco should shot the hold island down turn all the power off,

    • Kevin says:

      I would agree if that didnt cause any deaths ,,,,but instead if they had the ability to select where the outages occurred here is where i would start
      plp headquarters as a labour government who cant control the unions
      All of the unions headquarters especially Alaska Hall
      the neighborhoods of all the belco workers who are out on strike
      All plp minister neighborhoods
      Biu Gas Station
      Liberty Theatre
      And leave them off until they go back to work and the bargaining table like sensible adults

      • bda guy says:

        I agree but someone need to teach them a a lesson so if that means turning everything then do it,bring the union down to there knees

      • Nikki says:

        @KEVIN what makes you think that the neighborhoods that you’ve listed will not affect the innocent (cause deaths)?!?!

        most of these comments are so idiotic:(

  17. Kathy says:

    Where is BSL when we need him…don’t you wish you had solar panels now?

    • Res says:

      Re solar panels you need Belco power to activate the solar panels , unless you have a battery storage system

      • sage says:

        I was always under the impression that all photo-voltaic solar home systems were designed to function independently with battery banks and inverters, the only reason you need BELCO is because by law you must be connected to the grid.

        • Res says:

          Nope if that was the case if a Belco power line came down the inverters could back feed it . If you turn off your Belco meter your solar panels shut down , your ok if you have battery storage

          • Duh says:

            That’s so dum to say.. idiot…

          • Duh says:

            It kills the connection to belco if power is cut, to protect energizing the lines…. your house will still be powered by solar during the day. At night you will need battery banks.

          • LaV says:

            “If you turn off your Belco meter your solar panels shut down ”

            NO! You’re clueless. stop posting

      • LaV says:

        “Re solar panels you need Belco power to activate the solar panels ”

        NO! You’re obviously clueless. stop posting

  18. Jack Tail says:

    fire em all bring in the regiment what nonsense the government is failing our people while they take lots trips in fancy suits

  19. Edison says:

    I imagine FinTec runs off electricity… no amount of milk is going to change that.

  20. Carlton says:

    like LaVerne said you got the government u axed fowa nah luc

  21. Vigilante says:

    So the Workers are striking because their demands are not met…which are that the CEO and CFO be removed from office immediately?? I believe the Workers’ contracts preclude striking in this manner, and the executives’ contracts preclude their being fired summarily. So no go all around. The head of the ESTU claims it is “the Workers” who are demanding this action. Is it not incumbent on the head of ESTU to explain to the the Workers whether their demands are valid or not…or at least obtain some legal advice?

  22. Most of us that work do NOT agree with this says:

    while the entitled union workers parade around like spoled children with their demans–those of us employe din other business are fearing from the fallout of this selfish action.

    If business perceives increasing risk in Bermuda they will pull out and they we won’t have jobs–will you lot come “no no no” for us.

    Doubt it.

    what a bunch of nonsense this is.

    Hopefully your houses are the first to loose power! bless you all!

  23. sandgrownan says:

    “flyers are circulating with the CEO’s face and a Canadian flag with text alleging that he wants to give jobs to the Canadians”

    This amounts to intimidation and a hate campaign. I presume the police are now involved. Christ, how xenophobic have we become.

    This is the end, it really is, for Bermuda, Who the f*** would want to do business here?

    • Grace Bell says:

      I am not surprised by these actions, may I remind you the ‘Bend or Break’ remarks by Mr Pindling in the Bahamas all those years ago.

  24. Double S says:

    I am sure this won’t help the Premier’s push for Fintech companies to domicile here.

    From what I understand they generally need a steady stream of uninterrupted electricity for their operations.

    I could be wrong tho:)

  25. I heart 441 says:

    Canadians, although overall are friendly people, are working all over the Cayman Islands in positions Caymanias are qualified to do.
    If we do not take a stand now, we as well will resemble what has already begun in Cayman.

    • wahoo says:

      Shut up.

    • Truthhertz says:

      You mean resembling a booming economy where the government makes annual budget surpluses is something Bermuda shouldn’t aspire to be? Just because some foreigners are present? The hate and ignorance is real in this island

      • Toodle-oo says:

        *The hate and ignorance is real in this island*

        Isn’t it about time OJ chimed in with “25-11″ ?

    • Hmmm says:

      441.. do you actually know anything about Cayman? Cayman has a booming economy, locals and ex-pats working side by side without the hatred of Bermuda.

  26. Stevie says:

    21days to strike. The 4 gone not in union. Govt…Burt where hell are you.Sort it out. Guess Furbert gone quiet too.Think about Plp followers. Must add Rev Twit.

  27. Up D Hill says:

    4 PEOPLE LOST JOBS IN AN OFFICE, SO FN WHAT!!! WAIT TILL ROBOTICS KICKS IN AND POWER PLANTS NEED NO LABOUR!! What you gonna do then?

  28. Fintech is a modeern Industry says:

    This will not bode well with FinTech nor will our position on SSM as most of the CEO’s in this space focus on ESG issues and are equality focussed.

    Bermuda’s backward looking approach doesn’t square with the message that the BDA and the Premier are selling them.

    And when the power gets threatened–well that is the life line of this industry-

    The Premier is very Quick to DEMONIZE Bermuda’s banking industry for not banking digital commerce–He had better level some of the same criticism at the Union–as ELCTRICITY is just as important to Fintech as banking is if not MORE–and the Bermuda Union has just shot a major missle across the Premier’s Flagship story!!!

    Got get ‘em Premier Burt–unlease the kracken on the Union!!! Let’s see you turn that same contempt toward the Union.

    This ougta be good–very good!!!!

    Love it!

  29. Its Electric Boogie Woogie says:

    Glad i don’t own an electric Car!!

    • Time Shall Tell says:

      Your fossil fuel car is fed by an electric pump at the gas station though. Either way, if you can afford an electric car than you can afford alternative energy as well.

  30. BelCo workers, I support YOU all 100%.Recall the BelCo disturbances a few decades ago??
    Deja vu.
    United, WE WILL STAND!!

    • sandgrownan says:

      And, sadly for everyone concerned, united you will fall.

      • TO SANDGROWNAN:
        You will fall too , Buddy.
        Got one of those PAPER BERMUDIAN copies??
        Thought not.
        Another foreigner, thinking he/she knows what is right for us Bermudians!!
        The fall will be yours..this is my country!!
        YOU are here for money only. Your committed heart will never be that of a BORN BERMUDIAN!!
        Soooo…..UNITED WE STAND!!

  31. Jackson says:

    Oh no please dont stop the power at KFC

    • Chicken Wing says:

      KFC an essential service and a higher restore priority that the Hospital.

  32. I dont feel welcome says:

    Reading post like this weekly contributes to myself and others who are not Bermudian to feel so unwelcome in this country. There just seems to be so much hatred to persons not considered as “Born-BDAs”. In my honest opinion, they should just stop everyone from coming to Bermuda and at the same time, restrict the future generations from studying abroad in various countries.

    I do understand there lies a need for industrial actions by unions, but this amongst many other activities just seem to be a hidden agenda to force people out of the country.

    • mole hill says:

      They would love to do that and I am convinced they are trying. Point is we are the most self centered closed minded hypocrites in the world.Yes we see out of our proverbial A== that the world is not worthy of us, Could you envision some of these blind a== idiots running the world or even less a company of significance. I used to love my country but thru time I have lost all faith in our future. I as a Bermudian (Race to be determined ) cause that is a big issue am sorry you see and feel that way.

      • Coffee says:

        Large portions of people in every country feel the same way about foreigners . England out of the Euro to control her borders. Trump becoming President by stirring resentment against perceived foreign invasion from the south .
        Cayman Islands overrun by belongers , most of the population born overseas.

        What’s different in Bermuda. Nothing .

        • Retro says:

          It’s true .xenophobia wasn’t invented here and sometimes you don’t get that impression from expats but that’s not to say you shouldn’t be above it and realize how anti progressive xenophobia is . Particularly on a small ,isolated island .

        • Question says:

          Oh yes. Everywhere has their racist scumbags. Bermuda is no different.

    • WB says:

      That is exactly what their ultimate aim and goal is to Divide and split locals and get rid of expats cause we now so much more and are better than you. I really detest some of my brethren on de rock. I will say sorry on behalf of us sane and logical ones. But you are right who wants to live and work and CONTRIBUTE when that is the pervasive attitude of a large percentage.

    • Food for thought says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way. But maybe you could change your perception, try to see it from another point of view, or if you’re seriously concerned ask the people going through it their concerns before feeding into all this you’re hearing.

      The real hatred is between the “two Bermudas”.That’s the true issue at hand..

      I find it really sad how Bermudians talk about Bermudians period. Hence why there’s the divide.

      (Let’s fix how we treat each other)

      But I have a question for you.. In your birth place do you feel it’s right to replace a capable and qualified citizen with a foreigner?

      Lower classed Bermudians are just trying to survive in their own country. The upper class Bermudians always talking down on them helps no one.

      It’s time for everyone to grow up and start having actual conversations like for one admitting there is “two Bermudas”

    • Food for thought says:

      Also, Hidden agenda to force people out of the country? Really. Thats selfish. What about the Bermudian who gets let go and now has to struggle even more to provide for his family? You’d rather that to make more jobs available for foreigners??

      Don’t answer that out loud.

      It would be different if they then hired a more qualified Bermudian.. Heck other countries bring in foreigners to train their own…I’m just saying

    • 441 says:

      I understand why you feel that way and I am Bermudian, but you have to look deeper than the surface, Bermudians and Foreigners alike. The majority of us understand that all people here on work permits aren’t the same, however, most of the people who are in power aren’t at companies like this one aren’t Bermudian nor do they have the best interest of Bermudians at heart, leaving Bermudians to feel like outsiders in our own country. I would never expect to go to another country to work and get first pick over the people of that country. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening here in Bermuda and not just at BELCO. So before you voice your opinions on why Bermudians are angry, try to instead put yourself in their shoes or simply ask questions to get a deeper understanding.

    • LaV says:

      “born bermudians” love Canada when Canada saves their premature babies, at Canadian taxpayers expense….but want them out of the country when they’re here doing jobs that Bermudians CAN’T DO!

  33. ConcernedBermudian says:

    I am in support of unions but I am NOT in support of this strike. It is illegal and absurd that you are striking. The CEO is in the right and I stand behind him 100%. Mr. Durfy you are doing a great job. Now get back to work union members. If you don’t want to work there are tons of other people that would love to take your position.

  34. Enough says:

    A Union standing up for non-unionized Executives…double standard, but setting a precedent. Unless you have a different agenda. Stand up for ALL Executives.

  35. aceboy says:

    When Ewart Brown stood up at the banquet and said “by any means necessary” that meant a full blown campaign, in the churches, in the unions, in the social clubs to fill people’s heads with a bunch of hate inspired propaganda on racial and national lines.

    It doesn’t matter if any of it was true. The end justifies the means. At any cost.

    We are seeing the results now. Much of this island view the OBA as evil incarnate. I have seen the PLP refer to their time in government as a “Rein of terror” .

    It is all part of the plan to get in power and stay in power. This BELCO situation is a great example. The commenters here are consistently confusing a fight over worker rights with a fight over four high level executives who have retirement and redundancy packages in hand and who have stayed very very quiet.

    It is all smoke and mirror and part of that speech a few years ago.

  36. Louden Cleere says:

    Ok, so the workers have been ordered back to work.
    Does anyone know what happens next or is this over?

  37. Mark says:

    They better get back to work

  38. Me says:

    Crabs in a bucket RLMAO

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