Videos: BIU Pays Tribute to Dr Barbara Ball

March 14, 2011

[Updated with additional videos] Past and present Presidents of the Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU] hosted a press conference this afternoon [Mar.14], speaking on the passing of trade union pioneer Dr Barbara Ball last night. Present were three past or present BIU Presidents; Chris Furbert, Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess and Ottiwell Simmons.

BIU Derrick Burgess Ottiwell Simmons Chris Furbert

Dr Ball had no surviving family members, so the BIU will assist in arranging her homegoing service. Presently, arrangements are being made for her viewing to take place at the BIU Hall on Friday evening and Saturday, with the funeral initially planned for Saturday 19th March at St Theresa’s cathedral at 2pm.

Former BIU President Ottiwell Simmons led off saying that it was a very sad moment for all to lose a good friend, a politician, a sportsperson, and someone who had made a contribution that was recognized throughout the Caribbean. He said that Dr Ball had always been a valuable citizen to Bermuda. She had been a national figure, brilliant administrator, and a bold individual. She had leadership qualities that all of us emulated.

Current BIU President Chris Furbert said that Dr Ball laid the foundation, and “one of our founding members has now gone” and that she will be “missed by us all.”

Deputy Premier and former BIU President Derrick Burgess said that because of her efforts and life, every worker in Bermuda had benefited from her work. He recalled that in 1981, she had been denied Hospital privileges at KEMH because of her involvement with the BIU.

Dr Ball had a long history with the Union, becoming the first white person to hold an official post with the Bermuda Industrial Union; the first female to represent Bermuda’s workers before the United Nations; and the first female official of the Bermuda Industrial Union to be elected to the House of Assembly

In 1962, Dr. Ball became the General Secretary of the Bermuda Industrial Union and despite the pressures of her labour career, she maintained a thriving medical practice, continuing to treat all races and ethnicities.

During the 1965 BIU/Belco Union recognition dispute, Dr Ball, a diminutive woman but an expert in Judo, gained underground renown for having ‘flipped’ police officers who had tried to arrest her.

Ottiwell Simmons recently authored “Our Lady of Labour”, a book on Dr Ball. “I hope that the book will also serve as encouragement to Bermuda’s young people – particularly young trade unionists – to never give up the struggle,” said Mr Simmons.

Earlier this morning in the House of Assembly, Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess told his fellow MPs that Dr Ball had passed away. MPs held a moment of silence, with many later paying tribute to to Dr Ball including Premier Paula Cox and MP Dale Butler, who called for Dr Ball to be declared a national hero.

Opposition Leader Kim.Swan said, “Bermuda mourns the loss of Dr. Barbara Ball who passed away this past weekend. On behalf of the United Bermuda Party, I respectfully offer condolences to Dr. Ball’s Family and also to her Bermuda Industrial Union Family who she served faithfully.

“Dr. Ball was one of Bermuda’s champions for social justice and made a tremendous contribution to a better Bermuda through her involvement as trade unionist and as a physician.Dr. Ball used her training as a physician, to work towards healing a country with the challenge of imbalances. Her focus was on improving Bermuda through trade unionism and helping the working class stand up against that which challenged them in Bermuda.”

“Personally, I recall Dame Lois Brown Evans fondly sharing with me a story of how her daughter got in ‘hot water’ at school for valiantly defending Dr. Ball’s honour when Dr. Ball (her daughter’s God Mother) was ridiculed. Bermuda is the better because of the contributions by the late Dr. Barbara Ball. We thank God for sharing her with Bermuda. She leaves to mourn a country better because of her efforts and contributions,” concluded Mr Swan.

This afternoon, the PLP released a statement honouring Dr Ball which finished by saying “We recognize and appreciate the considerable sacrifice and skills of this valiant woman of the people. Dr. Ball spent forty-four years of her life fighting for the rights of the working class people of Bermuda, and the Progressive Labour Party thanks Dr. Ball. We mourn our loss and thank God that her life was shared with us.”

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  1. Terry says:

    Was it Bobby Vinton who sang “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” ?
    The Three Stooges.

    Wonder which one is Alexander Haig who said “Iam in Control” after Reagan was shot by John Hinkley.