BPSU Responds: Minister Richards Comments

January 18, 2013

BPSU President Kevin Grant has responded to recent comments made by Finance Minister Bob Richards saying he is “well aware” of the challenges we are facing, but the “only way to address this is collaboratively.”

Minister Richards recently held his first official briefing as Finance Minister, and said while keeping the OBA’s election promise not to lay off civil servants, Government will be talking with the unions to identify strategies to reduce Government personnel costs.

He noted that 46.8% of government expenses are related to employee compensation and benefits. When asked whether pay cuts, salary reductions, and freezes are being considered, Minister Richards said it “is on the table.” When asked whether reduced work weeks are on the table, he also said yes.

In response, Mr Grant said: “There has been a lot said over the past 24 hours since the Minister has made his comments. There have been a few suggestions as to what might possibly be put on the table for negotiations. The important aspect to remember is that they are only suggestions; nothing officially has been put on the table.

“However, that does not mean that I am naive to the predicament that this country finds itself in financially. I have said from the outset that there will need to be much more innovation and creativity going into negotiations mainly because things are not the way they used to be.

“The comment that there needs to be a shared sacrifice begs the question: Who specifically will do the sharing? Is this just sharing between government and unionized workers or is this to be shared in a tripartite collaborative manor including government, unions and the private sector? The latter is something the BPSU have been suggesting for sometime now.

“I am well aware that sacrifices will need to be made and the challenges that we are facing but the only way to address this is collaboratively,” concluded Mr Grant.

According to their website, the Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] represents more than 3,500 white-collar members within Government, quasi-Government and private sector businesses.

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Comments (30)

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  1. swing voter says:

    C’mon Grant…..Triparthid approach? Now you wanna tell the private sector what to do? The problem with our state of affairs started with government and it should be worked on by government. Fix the problem with government and you’ll fix 75% of what is wrong with Bermuda

    • Dockyard Lackey says:

      Agreed Swing Voter. I wonder where Mr Grant’s brain was when he made that comment. Hundereds if not thousands in the private sector have lost their jobs in the past two years. Many local businesses have closed their doors and there is probably only a few private operations who have not laid people off, or offered early retirement.
      In the meantime, despite a PLP Government promise to stop hiring, the papers are full of Government jobs every week. Bite the bullet unions. It’s high time Government started docking wages every time you walk off the job or go on a wild cat stoppage. BIU were crying foul about the dock situation and how their members would not be able to support their families. I always thought the unions provided financial assistance in cases of labour disputes. Maybe the present Government could borrow that much needed cash injection from the unions, at zero percent interest of course. With all the dues they collect and no overheads, I am sure they can afford it.

      • Black Soil says:

        The summer of love is over for the BPSU.

        • Black Soil says:

          While the private sector has been crippled by PLP economic policies, the BPSU has been on a Binge supported by the PLP in hopes all the mana from heaven would lead to victory at the polls. There are faaar to many BPSU workers making faaar to much money. This has to stop.

      • Islander says:

        I remember the BIU giving assistance for six weeks snd the grocery cheque had to be spent at the then Union Grocery store and if you have change, you had to grab a couple of candies or something to make up the full amount of the cheque.

      • Everett says:

        Dockyard Lackey – agree with you wholeheartedly. Dont know why he mentions the private sector who have already borne the brunt of this recession. It is time for government workers whose jobs seem to be the safest to start sacrificing by undergoing some cuts to benefits and salaries so that government can reduce borrowing and be better prepared to provide services.

    • ABM says:

      If only it were as easy as you make it sound.

    • rubber bong says:

      My interpretation of Mr. Grant’s comments are that as the Government’s debt is shared equally by every citizen, it will take every citizen’s participation to reduce our personal share of the debt. Not just the Government employees.

      • Truth (Original) says:

        That is true but the private sector have paid for this already (and are still paying) in the form of layoffs and business closures. The only ones who have been spared/sheltered are govt workers.

        They need join in on the pain.

        • Red Lion says:

          That would cripple the economy even more.

        • rubber bong says:

          Private sector layoffs are a symptom of a bad economy. A lot of people are saying that the private sector are already bearing the brunt but i disagree. The private sector may be hurting but i don’t see how they are bearing the brunt of paying down the ‘National Debt’. If private sector workers paid a different tax to the Govt than Govt workers then fine. But that’s not the case. So although Private sector workers are hurting, they are not contributing towards paying down their own share of the debt any more than a Govt worker. So from that stand point we are all equal when it comes to sharing the sacrifice of paying OUR debt. Government worker wage cuts and reduced work hours are effectively a ‘Government Worker Tax’ which goes directly towards paying down the debt. Debt which we ALL own. It sounds unfair that that only Government works should be made to pay down OUR debt. Debt which accumulates from yes salaries and benefits but also many services and programs that Govt AND Private sectors workers use equally. Remember we all pay the same taxes and we all use Govt services and programs equally. So although private sector bottom lines may have changed, thats separate to the Govt Debt which we ALL own. So to say Private workers are bearing the brunt of Govt debt is in my view incorrect. Thats what I think Mr. Grant is talking about.

          • Mad Dawg says:

            Thousands of private sector jobs have gone, while public sector jobs have been preserved. The population is 10,000 less than it was. The public sector is the only part of the economy that hasn’t made a sacrifice so far.

            And that debt? Most the debt was incurred in order to pay civil servants in the first place. The least they can do is try the help not make the debt even worse.

    • Eastern says:

      And not to mention the fact that if you were to drop wages in the private sector, not only will the workers have less money to spend in the local economy, but goverment will make less money from employment tax…….DUH!!!

  2. #ThatIsAll says:

    Pardon me Mr. Grant- Shared sacrifice with the private sector?? The only sacrifice yet has been in the private sector… hence the unemployment rate… ALL of Government workers still have their jobs and benefits

    • Loquatz says:

      Exactly! The private sector has borne all the brunt of Government’s excesses so far. Yes it hurts, but the squeeze needs to be equally applied to Government’s coffers.

  3. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    Let the private sector continue to just bear the burden of surviving in the free market. Government and unions have made the mess, the private sector will continue generating the revenue and jobs to pay the bill. Leave them to it and put the government house in order. All will benefit.

  4. Islander says:

    Is it correct that bus passes will be going up in order for PTB to increase their Revenue, if so what will the cost be

  5. Bermyman says:

    The private sector and it’s employees pay taxes so Government employees can have jobs. At the moment we don’t have enough tax revenue to pay for those government jobs without borrowing $100′s of millions a year at a compounding interest. You have to balance it out, and people who are surplus to requirements within government will have to face the inevitable in terms of a pay cut. It is unsustainable and the economic future of the Island largely depends on our ability to pay off the debt. Or we will suffer rating downgrades, and risk losing not only our ability to borrow but our currency and international business partners. The PLP failed to see this by allowing the Civil service to grow astronomically. It was unfair to government workers that they did this, in the end it was inevitable that the bubble would burst as the size of the civil service became increasingly unsustainable. The PLP wanted to hand out jobs and benefits to people in order to secure votes, but in the end it was detrimental to the island and will be to Government employees in the long run.

    The OBA are doing the responsible thing by taking steps to put the financial house in order. If they don’t then we risk catastrophic Financial failure as an Island and everyone will suffer.

    I would rather have a government who is responsible about our future rather than one that seeks to maintain power at the detriment of the nation(PLP).

    The proposal of reducing civil service expenditure is not just for the hell of it! It is to reverse the negative economic cycle that the previous administration created.

    • Red Lion says:

      If those government workers are laid off they will not be able to buy groceries, pay for electricity or even pay for their mortgage or send their children away to school. There livelihood is at stake. The economy will worsen by a great margin. The goal would be to strengthen the economy by creating stimulation from foreign investment and tourism. However, I do agree with you that there may be too many civil servants and government is not collecting enough revenue. They may have to trim the fat inch by inch.

  6. Winnie Dread says:

    You are right Mr Grant who will be sharing, we who do not work in the public sector have been bearing the burden all along…. In answer to your question your members and the others in the public should now bear some of the burden…. The business model employed for the past 10 years can’t continue, and you can’t dictate to the private sector who have been suffering for the past 5-6 years…. My question to you is how many Gov’t worker have lost their jobs and/or been laid off so far in this crisis??

  7. 32n64w says:

    There are already more un/underemployed people in the private sector than the entire gainfully employed civil service. I think they’ve done their part. What more do you want and how will it be achieved?

  8. Play Ground says:

    There Are Some cilvil servants who can use a cut as they dont do much but I for one will not share In it as I am new come from Private sector and watch my fellow line managers do very little, Infact i am new to the block and jobs they are supposed to do is not happening and the head of the department allows it I will make some noise trust me its not happening.

  9. I wanna know! says:

    I agree that something needs to be done with the civil service but cutting 20% of salaries cannot be the only solution. People in civil service still have bills to pay and children to feed so I would like to see things like basic services, rents, and the price of groceries reduced too.

    • Bermy Gooner says:

      Where is this 20% proposal that everyone keeps on quoting? I haven’t read any such thing as of yet. Where is this coming from?

      • Pastor Syl Hayward says:

        Nobody has set a figure for the pay cut – if cut there will be, anyhow! People are still pulling figures out of thin air and acting like they are reality. THAT is what scare-mongering is. Trying to create a panic! STOP, please.

    • swing voter says:

      Perfect example of the ‘entitlement’ attitude of people. If you’re not even moderately busy through-out an 8 hr workday then how do you justify collecting a paycheck based on a 40hr work week. Government departments are not that busy anymore, overstaffed, unchallenged, and going through the motions. If OBA make the same mistake by keeping us in a state of dependance, a state of welfare, then they’ll fail to bring government expenditures under control

      • New Bermudian says:

        As a public servant myself, I don’t fall under that stereotype you’re painting all of us with. I usually don’t take a lunch hour, I’m usually in before 8:45 and I’m usually in the office after 5. I work extremely hard, just as hard as anyone in the private sector. So please, don’t assume most of us are lazy and ‘entitled’. There is unfortunately a lot of that going on, a lot of that going on in the front lines that makes the rest of us look bad.

  10. dinosaurmedia says:

    This is the most sinister scheme ever orchestrated (by that i mean supposedly sovereign governments owing debts to private institutions)on the sheeple of the world from Greece to Japan and all points in between – WAKE UP PLEASE FELLOW MAN AND ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!!

  11. Hi says:

    “Why were bermudians told to keep spending?”

  12. Hi says:

    “To consume and take, then cry to burrow, raise our debt, then hopefully be rulers of an independent island.”….”Bermudians,….we are all individuals/independents….as a whole, this island in very simple words ‘HAS IT’S BEAUTY’, WE Glorify this rock with our Love we are so lucky to lay/sit/crawl/walk/run/ride/drive on because this is PARADISE, and TRUTHFULLY this Land is. PLEASE leave our dedicated new government alone….’The word GREED is not in their vocabulary’.”