“Bermudians Should Not Be Held Hostage”

February 12, 2011

bus buses depot filledShadow Minister of Transport Charlie Swan has addressed the recent bus strike saying: “The Minister might have stayed his ground he could have made a case to the people if he’s serious, we may have had widespread industrial action but,in these economic times, the greater good might have been served, as I believe that the right thinking men and women in the concerned Ministry and Department CAN, and WOULD HAVE, prevailed……..the inevitable could have been dealt with now….because Bermudians should not be held hostage by the actions of a few.”

The strike, which started on Wednesday, February 9th at approximately 4:20pm, was predicated by the firing of an employee.The employee in question has been working for PTB for 18 years, and called in sick for three days in a row, while working a part time job. He had previously been suspended for the same thing. BIU President Chris Furbert called a press conference on Wednesday and confirmed that “bus service was shut down.”

The strike continued on Thursday with drivers gathering at the Bus Depot and spending the day there. Mr Furbert addressed the drivers saying the “utter disrespect they (Government) show to the BIU is unacceptable.” At 12:30pm on Thursday Labour Minister Kim Wilson filed a Gazette Extraordinary. Later that day a proposal was made, from the BIU side, that the driver be reinstated with a months suspension and 6 months probationary period, which was rejected by Transport Minister Terry Lister.

Yesterday morning, an agreement was struck which saw the bus driver reinstated with a 5 week suspension and a one year probationary period. Minister Lister said he was faced with the choice of “standing firm and dealing with this one man, or allowing the country to have the situation to escalate to something that could become a national strike at a time when the economy is challenged.”

The Shadow Transport Minister also questioned the communication between entities, and also referenced a promise said to be made that the BIU to not engage in ‘wildcat’ strikes, and honour a 21 day cooling off period before calling a strike as the Government forgave the Berkeley School Project bond. Mr Swan said: “That the BIU would ignore this agreement indicates a lack of trust and mutual respect between the Ministry and the Department.”

Mr Swan’s full statement follows below:

It is regrettable, and in some ways, lamentable, that Bermuda was faced with a strike by Bus Drivers, and the threat of expanded action by other departments AT THIS JUNCTURE IN TIME. That it has now ended, with drivers back on their jobs, is to be commended by all….especially the hardworking citizens of our island who regularly rely on this service, and whom have been held hostage by the actions taken.

The episode brings into question the level of communication that occurs A. between The Ministry and Senior staff at the DPT, and B. between those senior staff, and the wider body of employees.

This is because specific roles, and the requirements of those who play those roles, as well as the dissemination of rules and regulations, their determination and enforcement, can become blurred, or even forgotten, over time, For instance, what is the ongoing role of the Ministry of Transport – leading up to, during and after this occurrence? Who, in the Department is responsible for making sure that staff are not only aware of the rules that govern their employment, but also that staff are regularly met with to address issues, complaints, new ideas and policies. What policies are in place to address employee suggestions and concerns. Government Departments operate differently we all agree, but how allowable is it that what some deem a ‘minor’ occurrence ends up holding the entire island hostage.

It also brings into question the degree to which trust exists between these groups……

Last year…the government removed the BIU from its obligation to satisfy its bond….issued for the Berkeley School Project. This was done in return for a guarantee by the BIU to not engage in ‘wildcat’ strikes, and honour a 21 day cooling off period before calling a strike.

That the BIU would ignore this agreement indicates a lack of trust and mutual respect between the Ministry and the Department. In what spirit was this agreement done? Was it done in Bermudians’ best interests? What becomes of the agreement now?

And to the right thinking and hardworking people of Bermuda! What recourse do they have……those who where inconvenienced by not being able to get home, maybe forced to stay with friends, or pay for a taxi, or who paid to stay in a hotel!? Those who had Bus Tickets which may now be invalid…..?? To those who argue that the wrongdoer in this case ‘has a family’, and ‘has 18 years service’…..some might say what was he thinking…..and why? what would make a sane, responsible person, who has a family….do something like this? And this was the second occurrence……so one senses that it is accepted behaviour…..that there are no consequences for wrongdoing?

Well we all have families…..and one of our responsibilities is to provide for them..Many Bermudians are out of work…..and would love a job….indeed, many non Bermudians would love a job…….

The Minister might have stayed his ground…..he could have made a case to the people if he’s serious….we may have had widespread industrial action……but, in these economic times, the greater good might have been served, as I believe that the right thinking men and women in the concerned Ministry and Department CAN, and WOULD HAVE, prevailed……..the inevitable could have been dealt with now….because Bermudians should not be held hostage by the actions of a few.

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Comments (47)

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  1. Terry says:

    It’s called ‘Not in my house’- ‘Inhouse fighting’.

    Hard to put into words without offending. The history of the involved speaks volumes.

    Is the glass half full? Is it half empty?

    The “Glass” is shattered but some hold the glue. It’s mine…no its’ mine…’Um gonna tal yah mumma’…um gonna speel dee beens……

    Ever notice how some PLP MP’s are quiet.

    Hopefully, thye pot will spill over. Not in my lifetime but those left will be singing Randy Travis’s song “I told You So” ….well thats what Mom and Dad said………….

  2. Call as it is says:

    PLP = Proper Lazy People

  3. reality says:

    You’re a little late Charlie. I’m still irritated so I don’t care what any politician/minister/senator has to say right now. Unless he or she says, “The guy should be fired.”

  4. Terry says:

    Reality, I get your point. The horse has a “Charlie Horse”. Gotta say something but also remember, you can’t scream about the pain…oh damn..I screwed up again……..

    Anyway. The people have spoken


    Whats the differance between ….”IB” and “IV”………………………

    First person to email me gets $100,000.

  5. Susan Clarke says:

    The Minister or Transport and the PLP have lost a lot of credibility. They would have had the full backing of all of Bermuda.
    Since this is a “done deal”, maybe now some serious changes will come about regarding the BIU and there contemptable regard for their fellow Bermudian and there selfish attitude and misplaced position of POWER.
    Heaven help us if something is not done!

  6. LaVerne Furbert says:

    Hopefully Mr. Swan, Charlie that is, has a copy of the agreement which states that the BIU gave a “guarantee not to engage in ‘wildcat strikes, and honour a 21 day cooling off period before calling a strike.”

    To my knowledge, no such agreement was made by either party, that is the BIU or the Government. But if the Royal Gazette has reported it, and other news media have taken it up, it must be so. Hence I can understand Mr. Swan’s confusion and the rest of Bermuda’s confusion regarding this matter.

    We all should remember that the “agreement” of which we speak was made betwen the former Premier, Dr. Ewart Brown on behalf of the Government of Bermuda, and the BIU. But Charlie Swan knows as the rest of you that none of can trust Dr. Brown or the BIU.

    It’s most unfortnate, but not surprising that the Shadow Minister of (something) is basing his opinion purely on media reports.

    • bernews says:

      Just clarifying Senator Furbert’s statement above, about the media’s reporting of a supposed 21 day agreement, as actually Mr Swan could have gotten that info from the other sources – including the PLP itself.

      Two days ago the PLP website posted a statement specifically referencing an agreement entitled “BIU Ignores Agreement for No Wildcat Strikes.”

      It says the statement was issued by “the PLP Government”, and the text is as follows: “Additionally, the Government worked with the BIU last year to forgive the Berkeley Performance Bond payment on the agreement that there would be no ‘wildcat’ strikes without adhering to the collective bargaining agreement and giving 21 days notice of industrial action.”

      The text can be found here: http://www.plp.bm/node/3669

      In addition, BIU President Chris Furbert mentioned a Government email sent about a supposed agreement, and we carried his statement clarifying the BIU’s position on site:

      Mr Furbert: “I need to set the record straight. I got an email that was sent out by the Department of Communications [saying] when the …Government forgave the BIU for the bond, the BIU would give 21 days notice before we had any industrial action.That was totally ludicrous. What the Premier of the country said then, that was Dr Ewart Brown, is that if the BIU has some issues, can you give us at least 72 hours before you have any kind of industrial action. We said under normal circumstances we would try and honour that request. So I don’t know where this 21 days come from. But it was never a question of giving 21 days notice before taking industrial action.”

      Video statement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B69ouN9MBTM&

      • bernews says:

        Since there now appears to be technical difficulties with that page on the PLP site, we attach a full screenshot of the website page we took this morning:


        • Robert Bryce says:

          Oh dear Senator Furbert – you have been proven to be just as untrustworthy as the BIU (your employer in case you have forgotten) and the ex Premier, just as you said in your post.

        • BermyGuy says:

          Thank’s Bernews. This is what is needed. I appreciate that you are not like some of the other news media running off at the mouth . The proof has been posted and the evidence shown. And as I am not authorised to access the P.L.P. website that the members should have access to then there goes my vote as I cant have access. Thanks again Bernews for setting the record straight. Cover that one up Great Defender Laverne.

          • Cleancut says:

            The Premier of this Country has pretty much the same values as LaVerne furbert, protecting Bermudians no matter what. LaVerne Furbert should seek some lessons from Col. Burch on how to survive while mocking a segment of the community.

          • Tru Dat says:

            Time and time again LaVerne Furbert sticks her foot in it. Thanks God for technology to prove it.

            • Speechless says:

              Ms Furbert, Laverne that is, like everyone else you are entitled to your opinion, but do you really need to be disrespectful in addressing a colleague in such a manner? I certainly expect a degree of decorum between our ‘politicians’ even those that were given their position and not elected.

              • Susan Clarke says:

                It makes you wonder how Ms. Furbert (Laverne, that is) ever made it to Senator. She does not show very much respect for her fellow Bermudian or her position to represent her people.

                • Joe says:

                  It’s her pay-off on the taxpayer. Years of dogged service to the BIU/PLP and we are the ones who get to pay her pension.

                  • Speechless says:

                    Senator Furbert – are you there??………Hello……over to you…….The people that you supposedly represent await your response to these questions/facts…..

                    • Check Mate says:

                      It’s not suprising that the Senator (or whatever she is) will keep her mouth shut.

                    • just joking says:

                      Not sure why we are so hard on her…when PLP won in 98 she came out and said..” Bermuda finally got what it deserves.” or quite similar words….
                      So here we go…we voted them in…THIS IS WHAT WE DESERVE

          • Letariatpro says:

            Nice Epic Fail Ms Furbert.

            Care to twist the truth any further?

            Not that anyone is really surprised you often take liberty with the truth.

        • well done! says:

          Well done to Bernews for putting a sock in LaVerne’s ***….I mean mouth!

        • el Bee says:

          It looks like the Ministry of Truth has been busy. The web link now goes to:

          Recalled Statement Published
          Submitted by PLP on 10 February 2011 – 1:04pm.

          For several days, this space contained a statement recalled by the Bermuda Government. The original statement contained an error. The original agreement called for 48-72 hours of advance notice prior to an industrial action, not 21 days. We regret the error.

          The labour dispute was resolved and the buses are back on the road.

      • 32n64w says:

        I see the Government (via a private political website) has now amended the strike notice period reference from 21 to 2-3 days. Ironically the BIU didn’t even keep to the terms of THAT agreement and yet the Government still backed down.

        Clearly taxpayers now serve at the mercy of the union. Amazing that any right thinking, responsible and publicly elected representative would permit such blatant abuse of process. Sorry, scratch that last remark, I had the PLP confused with someone who cares what the electorate thinks.

        “For several days, this space contained a statement recalled by the Bermuda Government. The original statement contained an error. The original agreement called for 48-72 hours of advance notice prior to an industrial action, not 21 days. We regret the error.

        The labour dispute was resolved and the buses are back on the road.”

    • James says:

      Wow, you might want to do some research within your own party before you divulge what is inside of your head. Your attempt(s) at sarcasm were just that, ATTEMPTS!

      You might want to keep your thoughts to yourself and perhaps turn your attention to your beloved Union which is, sad to say, going downhill rather quickly. The BIU may think it has “won” something on Friday, but in truth you all have lost and failed your membership miserably. We will see the results of the BIU defending the wrong person for the wrong reason in the very near future.

      I was once a proud Union member but that was when the Union actually stood for something, right and wrong! These days who knows what the hell you all are standing united for. From the public’s respective, and some of YOUR membership, its a stand for “EEGRANCE”. Not ignorance but just as I typed, “EEGRANCE”, which is far worse.

      Fix your house before spouting off.

    • Critical Thinker says:

      Who cares about that agreement. The fact of the matter is, the Union is defending theft, on the raw principle of that, it has to be wrong. So stop making this out to be about some agreement, wrong is wrong. This is one more reason why Party politics is wrong. “No credibility”

      You and the people who are staunch supporters, of any Political Party, will always put that party’s well being, before the Country’s, and that can’t be right.

    • ROS says:

      Why do you do this… I applaud your die hard position for the PLP as I am on too… but please DONT BECOME A BERMUDA SARAH PALIN.. Please… PLEASE always check all the facts of any situation before speaking….

    • Sarah says:

      So can we get your thoughts on the agreement now, Ms. Furbert?

      • Speechless says:

        What kind of government is this? Senator Furbert comes on here bold as brass with a childish hit and run attack then refuses to respond to her mistakes! Where are you now Senator? Are you hiding? Has the job become too much for you? Surely you must stand by your words or retract them with apologies……

  7. Robert Bryce says:

    @LaVerne Furbert. Your sarcasm is childish and pathetic and if this is the best a PLP Senator can do it is time for the new Premier to come clean and admit she has lost control of governing Bermuda. Since you are clearly aware of the deal struck between the ex Premier over the $10million dollars owed by the BIU/Union Asset Holdings or whatever entity issued the Berkeley Bond?

  8. ND says:

    If only the BUT stood strong for the tearchers like the BIU cause they need a lot of help over there.

  9. Alan says:

    This is so unfortunate. I travel by bicycle and bus and I already ride the bus as infrequently as possible, weather permitting. I do this mostly because the bus drivers don’t seem to view themselves as service providers and many, certainly not all, are among the most surly, disrespectful and arrogant professionals one will encounter on the island.

    For environmental reasons and to minimize traffic congestion government allegedly wants to encourage the use of public transportation but who is going to leave their car home and catch the bus or ferry when they cannot be certain of being able to get back home the same way?

    I hate the bus service.

    I know that isn’t mature but it is true. There are a few very nice bus drivers but I don’t even care that much for them anymore if they were a part of the travesty that took place this week; if they supported a man that clearly should have been fired.


    Don’t ride the bus unless you have to.

  10. ? .. says:

    Aren’t wildcat strikes illegal , PERIOD ?

    Irregardless of any previous ‘deals’ struck with the ex great one ….

  11. PLP but not the Government says:

    I am still in disbelief that this has taken place in spite of our show of support to Government.

    We are told that our Government thought it best to save the country from a situation that wouldn’t be good for us at this time. We now know that the time will still come and would have come now had the BIU not gotten their own way. Wouldn’t this have been the best time. We were all ready to stand for what is right in spite of the consequences and we showed our support. Wouldn’t it have been better for this country to have been recognized for standing for what is right instead of giving in to what is wrong.

    • Alan says:

      I agree completely. Lister would have been better supporting whomever fired that lout in the first place.

      This is the best time. Absolutely. We should be prepared to be uncomfortable in support of what is right.

      • Cleancut says:

        Don’t you realize how stubborn these bus drivers are. they would have stayed out for weeks and the government knows it. in these circumstances government needs to call a National Emergency. The Government can call upon the Governor to Deploy the Bermuda Regiment, they are qualified with ex bus drivers to train for the mission at hand, whether it be 1 or 50 Drivers.

        • Alan says:

          That’s what I am saying. Let them stay out. I know how stubborn they are. I don’t care. This is wrong.

  12. Union supporter says:

    I’m very much a union man- but what we’ve seen here is not the just actions of a responsible union.
    This is nothing short of organised crime.
    Holding a country to ransom like this is extortion.
    There is no moral justification for backing this individual- even if times are hard.

    • Alan says:

      I’m in favor of unions; of the idea of unions. I see the importance of a body that protects the rights of workers.

      I cannot support this union and Chris Furbert has just demonstrated his unsuitability for the position that he rabidly pursued for years.

      Mind you this is not the first time that the union stood behind an undeserving individual. We need only look at the island-wide strike in the 80′s.

      • rob says:

        Are you serious! it goes on every day. the Union re-instates individuals all the time, some with even more grievous crimes than the bus driver. I used to work in one of the top Hotels in Bermuda in the 80s. I would serve High Tea to about 100 guests, at the same time in the next room there were 100 staff members with the union trying to save a guy who came to work drunk every day. You think Chris Furbert was bad, some Hotel owners could not wait to “PULL OUT” Indiscreetly.

  13. Triangle Drifter says:

    My My, what a coincidence! The PLP website page is now only available to those authorised to do so! When will they ever learn? It is one thing to keep dumb people dumb & uninformed. Keeping smart people uninformed is not so easy, especially when they are smarter than the PLP.

    Good for you Bernews for taking the screenshot before posting the link. The PLP make themselves look very stupid to all except their Kool Aid drinking sheeple.

    It looks like we can’t trust Laverne to speak the truth either. Wow! What a surprise! Such a disappointment. I mean, I thought she knew everything. Her mouth was gospel.

    Oh well…I guess not. She is no better than the rest of the cronies on The Hill.

    Minister Lister had more support on the bus issue from the people like no PLP has had before. Instead, he caved & got run over by the bus.

    The skeletons got rattled in the closet but they did not come out. Not this time. They will. Sooner or later either the voters will wake from their appathetic sleep, like the Egyptians, or enough backbench PLP members will grow a spine & put an end to the insanity that is Bermuda today.

  14. Sarah says:

    Apparently the PLP need to learn this one simple lesson: the internet never forgets.
    Don’t worry Minister Lister, I’m sure no one will ever forget that you failed us when 98% of the island had your back.

  15. itwasn'tme says:

    HeadLine – Lister gets nuts crushed…..again

  16. Joe says:

    It’s also touching on something we can’t talk about: the black male issue. Started under EB, this unspoken policy lays down the rule that black men can do no wrong and will be supported in any endeavor in the face of years of oppression from both whites, and then the humiliation of their women’s economic rise in a successful Bermuda. In destroying Bermuda’s economic successes and embracing decisions (as above) black males will find themselves in a privileged position.
    Or they could be more totally encompassed into Bermuda’s success by the very people who seek to bring it down, but that would require leadership and a change of political heart.

  17. Critical Thinker says:

    Mr. Lister have as much spine as a shark. I was going to say “Balls” but I cant thing of any creatures without balls. AT least any worthwhile mentioning. And to think of it, he wanted to be our leader.

    • Sarah says:

      “Cause I’ve seen more spine in jellyfish.
      I’ve seen more guts in eleven-year-old kids”

      • Cleancut says:

        I Don’t think Lister made the decision to reinstate this guy, i think it came from the Top. Lister stood by his guns, Mrs.Cox (nee cog) made it.

    • Union supporter says:

      Being one of the crowd is the easiest and most profitable way for any politician the world over. No surprise that here, Mr Lister plays the safe card and avoids ostracising himself.
      It’s not the kind of thing Mandela nor Obama would do, but that’s the difference between truly committed politicians and power grabbing idiots.

  18. sandgrownan says:

    Looks like Lister was “leaned” on by Cog and Brother Derrick.

    I wonder…someone’s going to crack and spill the beans soon….