Premier: ‘A Way Forward Has Been Agreed’

October 21, 2018 | 56 Comments

[Updated] A meeting held last night with the Premier, Ministers, Electricity Union executive and Ascendant Board “was productive and a way forward has been agreed,” Premier David Burt said this morning.

This follows after the Ascendant Group obtained a Supreme Court order  directing ESTU members “to return to their full employment effective immediately” after workers decided to withdraw labour on Friday.

Then on Saturday afternoon, the ESTU said they “exhausted all possible avenues in coming to a beneficial solution for all parties involved in this dispute but the response received has placed us into a corner with no other option but to continue with the withdrawal of labour.”

Update: Photo posted by Premier Burt:

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This morning a government spokesperson confirmed that Premier David Burt convened a meeting last evening [Oct 20] at the Cabinet Office between members of Ascendant Group’s Board and the executive of the Electricity Supply Trade Union.

The Premier was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs Walter Roban, and Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown.

The Premier said, “Our meeting last evening was productive and a way forward has been agreed. Both sides came prepared to talk and I wish to thank them for their willingness to work towards some form of resolution.

“Most importantly, I am satisfied that the supply of electricity for Bermuda will continue uninterrupted.”

Update 2.52pm: The Premier has commented on the matter again, saying: “We spent several hours last night working through various issues and trying to repair a damaged working relationship.

“Unions do not take strike action lightly and in this case it was important to engage in a critical examination of the issues they outlined. Both sides accept that dialogue must continue and that communication must be open and constructive.

“The ‘work to rule’ has ended and the ESTU executive made it clear that their aim is to provide electricity to the Island safely and reliably. In the meantime, the remaining issues will be for the Board to address in due course.

“The Government responded to a need to bring the parties together for the good of the country. Disputes like this can be concerning but we are a mature democracy that has and will continue to manage issues responsibly, mindful of the wider impact on the community.

“Discussions will continue over the next few days and I am confident that electricity supply will be delivered uninterrupted, as both sides are now clearer on what needs to be done to continue the progress achieved last night.”

Update 8.51pm: The Board of Ascendant Group Limited released a statement saying, “Members of the Board of Ascendant Group Limited met with Premier David Burt, Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs Walter Roban, Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown and the Executive of the Electricity Supply Trade Union [ESTU], on Saturday evening and agreed a way forward which brings to an end the industrial action by BELCO staff of the last two weeks.

“For BELCO customers this means that all regular services will resume effective immediately. BELCO’s head office on Serpentine Road will be open during regular office hours on Monday to accept all customer inquiries and payments.

“We appreciate the input of all parties who have endeavored to bring resolution to this situation and would especially like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding during this challenging time.”

Update 9.29pm: The Electricity Supply Trade Union [ESTU] have released a statement which can be read here.

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Comments (56)

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  1. Vote for Me says:

    Congratulations to all involved in finding a way forward.

    Given Bermuda’s economic and social environment, it is important for disputes to be resolved in a timely and effective manner.

    We now await the details of the resolution.

    • 2 Bermudas says:

      Ya, cause de island don’t run on titty milk!! Ha ha ha!!

      • This goes to show that being organized, there is power and strength in unity. I feel sorry for workers who dont have representation where employers abuse their authority. Exploitation of workers seems to be the norm now days.
        Thank you Premeir and crew.

        • wahoo says:

          This also goes to show that Bermuda has a lot of growing up to do. The good people of Bermuda deserve better, an essential service is just that. The fact that the 2 people directly involved and impacted have remained out of the limelight speaks volumes. The word on the street is that the protest was orchestrated for reasons not necessarily in the best interest of the average Bermudian.

          • Sluice says:

            Being organized? A union march in protest of two non union members losing their jobs and two non union members that quit?

            It was just another way for the union to flex its muscles and make members feel like their dues are worthwhile. They were becoming irrelevant. Same tactic that unions have used for years. Make noise so the leaders and workers can feel relevant and powerful. The reality is that some unions have become like a version of a pyramid scheme.

            • Well it is progress from 400 years of FREE labour.

              • 2 Bermudas says:

                How we made progress when we are $2.5bn in debt?! Ya been hittin’ de titty milk again?!? Ha ha ha!!

              • Ignorant Inion says:

                Onion Juice once again proves his / her ignorance, political bias and his / her intention on benefiting from shifting away from the story.

                While I know what he is implying I will ask him this.

                Has BELCO has been around for 400 years? No!Has Bermuda been permanently settled for 400 years? No!

                When was slavery outlawed by Britian? I believe 1807? So explain Onion Juice , how you get 400 years of free labour.

                • Regardles if it was 400,300 or 200 years it was still FREE labour. Belco was incoporated in 1908 and Blacks in Bermuda got recognition in the 1960′s. So slaves were freed in de early 1800′s, how did the Belco founders accumilate their money and were freed slaves given the opportunity in society to earn a living wage? Even though slaves were freed it still took one hundred years to be excepted in main stream society.
                  And the struggle continues.

                • Joe Bloggs says:

                  OJ is practicing politics and he is taking his lead from Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. The truth does not matter as long as people are whipped into a frenzy.

        • cpm says:

          You are complaining about non union workers who are getting million dollar payouts?

  2. Stevie says:

    Took your time Burt/PLP to step in. Furbert/BIU & rev Twit oh so silent. If this matter happened under OBA watch all hell would break loose. Think about it those voted. 25-11. No more.

  3. Question says:

    The union was wrong. Get back to work. Show’s over.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it wrong to stand up for the future of Bermuda? They want a future for Bermuda. Why spend your life working for a company and getting multiple degrees to be forced out by a foreigner. Is that what you want for our children.
      There is no other utility for these men and women to find equal employment at in there own country.
      As a monopoly BELCO needs to show more social responsibility to their qualified Bermudian workforce or in the future no one will want to get into that industry and that jeopardizes Bermuda’s stability.
      There is a very small pool of workers in the world capable of doing those jobs, without bermudians in those positions this island will be in big trouble.
      Another note is that your condescending attitude is horrific. You are not capable of doing what those workers do. You do not risk your life everyday at your job as they do. You have no clue as to what it takes to keep your power on. You sure appreciate their hard work when we have a hurricane. Have some respect to those that make your cushy life possible and the 17 people who died doing that job to ensure Bermuda has one the most stable electric supplies in world that slows us to be an international business center.

      • sandgrownan says:

        You’re missing the point entirely.

      • Question says:

        They’re not standing up for the future of Bermuda. They’re just anti-foreigner, plain and simple. Any company has the right to legally restructure its operations, even if it makes people redundant. If you want to stay employed, stay useful. Like anywhere else in the world.
        The union action was illegal and immoral.

        And you have no idea what I do or have done. You might be surprised.

        • Sounds like a Right Wing Conservative comment.

          • Just like slavery and the Cival Rights Era, many laws were broken during these times and because they did, change came and wirh a price. Some with their lives and economic deprivation.

            • 2 Bermudas says:

              Vats changed except my Belco bill going up?!? Titty milk drinker!! Ha ha ha!!

            • Question says:

              You’re equating perfectly reasonable laws about labour relations, which were broken by the union, with slavery.
              This is why no one takes you seriously. It’s pathetic.

              And if you’re looking for a right-wing conservative, look at the PLP. It’s Bermuda’s fascist party.

          • 2 Bermudas says:

            Ya ya, vat do we do wif people working hur illegaly?!? Dey are on de next plane outta hur!! Trump Trump Trump!! Keep drinking de titty milk bah!! Ha ha ha!!

      • ConcernedBermudian says:

        Anonymous you are misinformed. BELCO board is looking at the best interest for Bermuda and for their shareholders. They are trying to bring electricity rates down. Letting go of those people will save tons of money. They clearly were not doing anything productive. Secondly regarding your comment about the union members standing up for the future of Bermuda. What BS. Bermudians do not support this illegal strike. Those 4 people that were let go were NOT union members, why are you supporting them? We need to cut costs in Bermuda. Reinstating them will not reduce costs, its simple economics. I know for a fact many of the belco workers do NOT support this strike yet they have no choice but obey the union leaders and not work. As for your comment on the multiple degrees and being forced out by a foreigner. None of those 4 people have the experience or the qualifications to be CEO, Durfy has tons of experience and is trying to bring costs down. Your view is oh he is a foreigner so fire him is so dopey. He is trying to cut costs. Just you wait, electricity costs are gonna sky rocket again because you reinstate the 4. That’s not in the best interest of Bermuda.

        • Really says:

          Since you obviously know so many facts, go warm up the boat, make the swizzle and drive your concernudianbermuduan mentality around the harbour with all your mates

          • Blankerchief says:

            Very well articulated response. If you were any more inbred you’d be a sandwich.

      • Sluice says:

        Business change and evolve all the time.

        Would you prefer to go back to the days of waiting in long lines to cash checks and pay bills?

        Would you prefer to go back to doing business by postal service instead of email and courier.

        Would you rather go back to reading your news in the morning or weekend when only newspaper existed or do you prefer Bernews, RG online etc.

        Would you rather go back to getting only the music, TV sports and movies that were made available to you instead of IPTV and on demand services.

        All of these advancements caused loss of jobs at some businesses but also created new jobs. Its sad for some but better for people as a whole.

        Nobody is guaranteed a job for life!

      • Breast fed says:

        Bs and you know it!

      • Pork & Bean says:

        Yes it is wrong when the person in charge has been given the difficult task of saving money to lower cost and lower YOUR cost of electricity. So, the next time you look at your bill and ask why is it so high you know why!

        Things change. Jobs become irrelevant (like the post office for example) and change has to be made.

        The stupid thing is that they striked for two non-union members and two that QUIT! And they got good pay packages.

        Unfortunately the ESTU seems to be aligning itself with another union and a political party which is not a good thing for the members. They have become pawns in the game of politics.

        What most people dont realize is tat this is just a ploy by those wish to take over BELCO. Shake things up and the board, shareholders and management will say SELL! Meanwhile a Big Fish is waiting to snap it up.

        Takeover 101 – LOL. Prediction, BELCO will be purchased soon. Staff will be let go but next time it’ll “be okay”.

  4. Lynne Winfield says:

    The existence of a monopoly such as Belco in Bermuda means a limitation of voluntary exchange through reduction of alternatives to an individual, whilst also raising the issue of ‘social responsibility’ of the monopolist. This is even more critical in an island that was divided along white management/black workers along racial lines for so many years. Given this history, which for many appears to many to be playing out again along racial lines, it is imperative that Belco, as a monopoly, understands its social responsibility to Bermudians.It is also clear that Belco over the years has done much good training young Bermudians but even respected companies from time to time display monopolistic tendencies and biased choices in hiring practices, and those tendencies can do a lot of damage, not least by getting a firm embroiled in very public fights, which ends in harm to the public good. Belco, as a monopoly with a highly questionable past of discrimination, prejudice and wealth creation of a few, must proactively focus on its corporate social responsibility in the Bermuda context.

    • Pitts Bay says:

      Yup, I guess it is all BELCO’s fault. Union had no fault whatsoever and wasn’t reckless in its decision.

    • Ringmaster says:

      Don’t complain when the cost of electricity rises to meet the social costs of employing surplus staff.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Or perhaps, Lynn, it’s simple economics that the perpetually offended appear not to grasp.

      Reduced population therefore reduced demand, capping of rates by government, and big capital projects to guarantee supply for the future. It’s only a race/nationality/management issue because it suits the narrative.

      Make no mistake, the next CEO will have the same issues and the same solutions.

    • Retro says:

      Belcos social responsibility to the island is to provide electricity . Ideally, affordable electricity. To achieve that as a business it might require tough decisions. The union really overstepped it’s mark and has zero regard for The public at large.

    • TAB FROUD says:

      Lynne,
      You are so off base with your comments as BELCO is a publicly traded company and if anyone wants it can purchase shares and then go and get elected to the board if change is wanted. Whilst we might not like our BELCO costs/bills they are trying to run the company for the shareholders and with a view to social conditions.
      Maybe those that do not like the way the company is being run go and start up another company as such (without Govt’s help) and see what your decisions might look like. At the end of the day they have to run the company for a profit and look forward to further expansion projects. It is not about race at all.

      • Coffee says:

        Tab’s revisionist drivel is obviously coming from someone who has benefited immensely from a generation of unfettered white privilege in Bermuda . Belco was built , if , you would recall at a time when the Forty Theives ran this Island like their very own PRIVATE BUSINESS .

        So of course THE BELCO FOUNDATION WAS ESTABLISHED WITH FUNDS CREATED BY PEOPLE WHO LIVED UNDER TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.

    • Jt says:

      So glad not to be listening in Detroit.

    • cpm says:

      You do untold damage to our island by winding up people with your biased views

    • cpm says:

      Do you have one of those wheels with big words?
      What right does anyone have to have a say in a private buisness eg Cambridge Beaches

    • It’s Gonna Cost You says:

      If all you’ve got is a hammer…..

    • Ben S says:

      aaaaaand, of course, it is all due to racism. Thanks Lynne.

  5. Time Shall Tell says:

    Thank you, Premier Burt, Deputy Premier & Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs Walter Roban, and Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown for intervening & mediating this dispute to a point of settlement. Belco crew thank you for standing in what you believe in but please next time follow the agreed upon process of protest. I 100% percent strongly believe in standing for what you believe in but I am also a believer of following the proper process.

  6. Well done says:

    I am glad that a way forward has been found.

    Mr Burt’s Fintech strategy relies on it.

    I sure hope it doesn’t impact the CEO. He was doing his job. The others well……

  7. Joe Bloggs says:

    Interesting, no mention of the injunction that Belco got on Friday afternoon before our Premier assisted in finding a way forward

  8. Tea Pot Vs Frying Pan says:

    So whom are the “Perpetually Offended” ?

  9. Bobby Jones says:

    Why has our electricity bills been so high?

    The employees (from the lowest to the highest) at BELCO:
    Have/had free health insurance (paid for by the company).
    At time of retirement, they receive 80% of their salary.
    At time passing, their spouse receives 60% of the salary.

    Government gets a huge tax on the fuel that is used. (no wonder government doesn’t want solar or wind generation.

    Who pays for all of this? Mr & Ms Bermuda.
    What a con job by the Government (no matter who’s in power).

  10. Brilliance of Burt says:

    Well done Premier Burt

    Workers Standing together is Great

    Keep working in Unity, together for the People

    • aceboy says:

      Workers in support of Management who have nice packages and who are not Union members.

      The workers are just pawns in all of this. Mislead and used.

  11. Seen it all before says:

    Isn’t this so look typical?

    The government creates a problem, has no part in solving it, then takes credit for saving the day.

  12. Me says:

    A storm in a bermuda teacup

  13. cpm says:

    Why are you meddling in affairs that are nothing to do with you ?

  14. wondering says:

    Don’t give credit where it isn’t due……perhaps the premier’s diplomacy but Rohan and Brown haven’t done Jack! Collecting paycheques for benchwarming

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