Minister Fahy: “Workers Should Return To Work”

February 23, 2014

Minister of Home Affairs, Sen. Michael Fahy has sought to clarify the Government’s position regarding the recent labour disputes which have seen at least two Government Departments engage in industrial activity last week.

After a meeting on Wednesday [Feb 19], between union officials and Marine and Ports staff, BIU President Chris Furbert described various issues staff had and stated that ferry service would be suspended on Thursday until further notice.

On Friday [Feb 21], some members of staff from the Parks Department attended a meeting at the BIU and The Ministry of Public Works confirmed that there had been an interruption to services as a result of what they termed an “irregular industrial action” by Department of Parks staff.

“In an effort to address and clarify the Government’s position regarding the recent labour disputes which have seen at least two Government Departments engage in irregular and unlawful industrial activity last week, the Minister of Home Affairs provided the following statement”, a Ministry spokesperson said.

“The Minister specifically provides clarification to criticisms by the Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU] that last week’s injunction against Marine and Ports’ essential services workers was premature. He also reiterated for the benefit or the public the appropriate protocols that must be followed by unions and workers who wish to engage in any kind of industrial action.

“The Minister also referred to correspondence shared with the media by the BIU and offered the Ministry’s stance on their concerns.”

Minister Fahy said, “I am disappointed that the BIU has chosen to release correspondence through the press, especially since the letter disclosed to the media on Friday was not entirely accurate.

“On Wednesday, 19th February 2014 at 2.35 pm , an email was received by the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and forwarded to my attention. The letter stated:

Please be advised that at the meeting held today here at BIU Headquarters, the members of the Marine & Ports Division have voted unamiously [sic] to take industrial action as of first thing tomorrow morning due to the lack of progress on the many outstanding issues communicated to you on December 19, 2013 and your [Minister Crockwell] lack of involvement in the process. Should you wish, you may contact President Furbert.

“The Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA] is clear – there is a Grievance Procedure and it is alleged this has not been followed. Furthermore, Marine and Ports has a number of services, some of which are deemed essential – such as pilot and tug operations.

“Industrial action requires 21 days notice for essential services. Failing to do so is unlawful as indicated quite clearly in the statute.

“As such it was quite appropriate in my view for the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport to seek an injunction, which is sought in the name of the Minister responsible, to ensure that essential services are provided and that the public is not adversely affected.

“For the sake of clarity, the injunction was obtained at approximately 6.00pm on 19th February 2014 and thereafter served by email in the same manner in which industrial action was notified.

“At no time was an undertaking given by me or any other Minister that the injunction would not be served prior to discussions on 20th February 2014, since, quite simply, it had already been served. A hard copy followed in the early afternoon of 20th February 2014.

“It’s important to note as well that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Permanent Secretary advised the BIU President following the February 14th LAC meeting that he should afford the Ministry an opportunity to reach out to the respective Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Tourism Development and Transport and Public Works regarding the issues so that a resolution could be sought.

“However industrial action ensued before my Permanent Secretary could provide the BIU with a full update and assessment.

“To be very clear, as it stands currently, there is nothing whatsoever from stopping the parties from trying to resolve their issues when an injunction has been served.

“The BIU and Government have talked repeatedly about the importance of following the CBA and the statutory regime. In my view when that is not followed parties have the right to seek relief from the courts. It is terribly disappointing that things have come to this – especially since the BIU was clear two weeks ago that following the process was important.

“This too was confirmed at the LAC a week ago. More to the point, it is not the role of Ministers to get involved in staffing issues. There is a process in place under the legislation which must be followed. And I personally made this very clear to the BIU President on 14th February 2014 following the LAC meeting.

“In any event, the dispute involving Marine and Ports’ essential services has been referred to arbitration under the Labour Relations Act 1975 with Mr. Craig Rothwell as Chairman and Dr. Michael Bradshaw and Mr. Paget Wharton as tribunal members.

“Again, per the statutory regime, all essential industry workers should return to work. This understanding was also acknowledged at the recent LAC meeting.

“Regarding the non-essential Marine and Ports and Department of Parks services, Labour Dispute Notices have been published – as such workers should return to work.

“The law is clear in this regard: At any time after the notice…is published…a…strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike is unlawful.

“I remind the parties that the Labour Disputes Act 1992 also says: Any person who takes part in, incites or in any way encourages, persuades or influences any person to take part in or otherwise acts in furtherance of, a lock-out, strike or industrial action short of a strike that is unlawful…is guilty of an offence and is liable – on conviction on indictment to a fine of five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for two years or both; on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars or to imprisonment for three months.

“Finally for the entire day of Friday 21st February 2014 the Department of Workforce Development attempted to reach BIU President Chris Furbert to attempt to conciliate the Department of Parks matters. All efforts were unsuccessful on the basis that President Furbert was ‘in meetings’.

“This led to my declaration of a dispute under the Labour Disputes Act 1992 since the Ministry was unable to obtain consent from both parties to arbitrate under the Labour Relations Act 1975.

“At this stage, it is the BIU’s desire to have a Board of Inquiry, however this request is somewhat academic since Labour Dispute Notices have been published and Tribunals have been established. However, the Ministry will endeavour to reach out to the parties in this regard in any event.

“As a final note, irregular and unlawful industrial action is something that should be avoided. I am hopeful that common sense will prevail and that all services return to normal.”

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Comments (49)

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  1. 1 chance only says:

    As a final note you better start looking for a Premier who can lead Bermuda and not a puppet or surrogate to win votes. The days of placing a black face to win votes is over. The PLP has learned that after their parade down Court Street 14 + years ago, the voters are not playing and the OBA will learned also.

    Remember the OBA only won by a few votes you don’t want to make history and be the first Governing party in Bermuda to be kicked out after 1 term.

    • Mirror says:

      The PLP has placed a Black face in every single leadership position for their entire history to win votes – is @ 1 chance objecting to this as well?

      If so, I completely support this post.

      • Cleancut says:

        The PLP also put some white “puppets” in their ranks to get the white vote as well, look how that turned out.

        • haha says:

          Think its time to put a “white face” as leader for the PLP as @1 chance only talks about

        • Robert says:

          White puppets ?!!! Those strong folk joined the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party on their own and were welcomed with opened arms. Its the majority of white bermuda who casted them out and black listed those bravd souls who chose to stand up against the status quo.

          • Hmmm says:

            Prove they were cast out. You are making stuff up.

            • Mazumbo says:

              Does Dr. Barbara Ball ring a bell, oh I forgot she was a Union Activist, but she was still a cast out!!!!!!

              • hmmm says:

                Was She? what year was that, what does it have to do with current folks in the PLP ?

          • LOL (original TM*) says:

            You were told to like them as they brought much needed money and a link to the construction industry (say for a hotel or dock) to campaign to your party at the time nothing more. What happened to the ex commissioner gone with the wind………lol


        • Rockfish#1and#2 says:

          Is there any chance that the PLP will elect a white leader next time? Or maybe a Deputy Leader?

          Many people assumed Zane would be the special one, especially after he declared himself the HNIC.

          • Mazumbo says:

            But its no secret blacks who joined the U.B.P/oba joined for social status and abandoned their fellow country men to fight the struggle while they were used as puppets, and its common for blacks to align themselves with white establishments and feel comfortable but visa versa, I don’t think so.

            • hmmm says:

              There goes yopur small minded racist hate again.

              Your children must be so proud.

    • Kangoocar says:

      I think that everything you just said is total nonsense!!! Unfortanetly Bermuda has not gotten past the fact that if you have anybody that is non white, you have no hope of being elected!!! How pathetic is that?? With that being said, the OBA just need to enforce the law and deal with this situation!!! Without a doubt laws have been broken and those that have broken them need to be held accountable!!! OBA, grow a pair, and demand our performance bond from the union!! If they don’t pay up within 7 days close them down!!! We all know they can’t pay so start putting the necessary things in place to do it, you will be amazed at how much support you will get!!! The former US President Regan did the same with the Air Traffic controllers and only 2 things happened, firstly, the skies became safer, and secondly he became one of the most popular presidents the US ever had!!! Are you getting it yet????

      • Coffee says:

        You mean like what the worlds local bank did to that bastion of front street ? You know the orange building whose books were always in the red . You do know that under Reagan , the worst drug epidemic , aids and the military industrial complex spending increased , much to the detriment of the free world . Not to mention numerous attempts on his life . Ronald Wilson Reagan was a much despised governor of California , they tried to kill him there as well and a very wicked president .

        • Kangoocar says:

          Coffee, you are a certified idiot now!!! When Regan was elected, he was one of the few Republicans that was ever given the popular vote from California in a Presidential election!!! If you are going to spout off nonsense for the sake of nonsense, do it somewhere else!!!! Keeping in mind what I just addressed to you, I will not even bother to correct you on the other stuff, your agenda is clear!!!!

          • Coffee says:

            Of course many of the voting public was disenfranchised I.e. Blacks and Hispanics , but , as you are today ,your thinking hasn’t changed or improved . Say what you will , but take note , the social unrest during his years in Sacramento was only upstaged … just barely … By the Rodney King riots . So take your revised , redacted history elsewhere .

      • Kangoocar says:

        Correction, any body that is non black

      • shutthemdown says:

        I dare him to do that.

        This is not the US

        civil unrest wont be good for you.

    • Mazumbo says:

      That’s why they are implementing and legislating their Ragan and Thatcher tactics, they’re setting up their foundation for friends and family and regardless of the next election tentacals would be everywhere.

  2. oreo says:

    1 chance only. I think your Premier is doing a great job. He’s not rising to the racist’s bait but is very much getting on with turning the country around. Surely that’s a good thing for all Bermudians? I say this an a guest worker with no axe to grind.

    On another note, can Bernews please make a headline banner giving the status of the ferries? A lot of people have no idea whether they are running or not, and M&P website is not exactly helpful.

  3. Coffee says:

    Unfortunately , the only way that this Premier knows how to FACE THE NATION is by looking down and reading Don Greason’s infantile notes .

    • Take it Easy! says:

      While Paula was looking down DREB’s infantile notes! And look where that got us!

    • Kangoocar says:

      @coffee, obviously the only way you know how to spout off your nonsense is to hide by the name coffee??? May I ask you how well you did under the plp for the last 5 yrs of their reign of terror???

  4. Take it Easy! says:

    Come on u guys just go back work! Show a lil respect to the Bermudians that don’t have a job for once! The situation will get resolved while u can still work! Dont HOLD your cousin, a mother, a sister, a brother, a grandfather, grandmother ransom! There a lot of people that depend on you guys so dont take your frustrations on the general public that help put towards your wages.

    • At last!! says:

      Thanks Take it Easy!

      Yours was the first comment on the actual story.

      The rest is the usual tit for tat nonsense and hatred from both sides that seems to plagues these comments sections.

      Is there any chance of moving forward together??

  5. Micro says:

    Since the ferries aren’t running, does that mean I don’t have to pay the taxes that go towards running the ferries and paying these fools?

  6. somuchless says:

    You know these workers are not going to work tomorrow IN THE RAIN. Lol

    Tomorrow W&E be off the job too.

    Funny part is the biu never encourages the staff to work, they always tell them take breaks. Dummies.

  7. Whistling Frog says:

    Even if they go back to work. Will they actually work?

  8. Mark says:

    The PLP had a white puppet speech writer too….Mr. Markham , Bean seems to forget inna.

  9. ted says:

    @ 1chance only,All Presidents,Premiers, and Prime Ministers are PUPPETS serving one MASTER.

    Wake Up Sheeples, read A GRUNCH OF GIANTS by Buckminster Fuller

  10. mr onion says:

    cronic laziness..thanks to plp/biu…this is the island downfall..

  11. 32n64w says:

    Where are the PLP in all of this?

    What haven’t they come out against the illegal actions of the BIU? Or is ok when ‘they do it’?

    PLP/BIU – party before country since 1998; one stranded ferry commuter at a time.

    • Inside Track says:

      It’s true. Not a word. Is it because the PLP know that the BIU members are out of order and the Minister is upholding the the law? The BIU goes ballistic if management steps outside the CBA but find it ok when they do. I don’t think that the BIU have the right to demand financial details regarding the Millennium.

      • Hmmm says:

        Where are the BIU financials, wonder how they have been recording the loan with PHC?

  12. 1minute says:

    Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that the BIU was complaining that Fairmont wasn’t sticking to the letter of their CBA?
    The M&P CBA says they need to give 21 days notice to strike.

  13. James Herald says:

    I think its only fair that BIU should be levied a daily fine for this illegal strike. How about $10k?

    It is clearly time for someone to stand up to them or they will get stronger still.

    This is the moment!

  14. Jus' Askin' says:

    All could have been avoided had the minister gone to the meeting, instead of the courts to get an injunction. The minister has no intention on resolving the matter. Like others in his party will use the law to silence the people and. Plus, these two departments are on the chopping block for privatization. Coincidence that OBA are ignoring the workers requests?


    I will say it again “PEOPLE ARE TIRED OF ROLLING OVER”. UBP and PLP got away with a lot, there is no meat on the bone for you OBA :-D

    • SMDH says:

      Seems to me like they are caring bout the thousands of middle and lower income Bermudians who have been left to find other means of transportation to get to work, without any sort of indication as to when this strike will end.

      If this strike is about the employment issues that were outline in the letter posted in a previous article, and if what I’ve been told about the Minister having no say over who is or isn’t hired, then they NEED to get back to work and QUIT inconveniencing everyone else who actually wants to go to work (whether they work in a poor work environment or not) because we have bills to pay and families to support.

  15. Lance says:

    I recall reading that OBA was going to have a strict no work no pay policy going forward. I wonder if they have the kahunas to do so?

  16. Bermuda Boy says:

    Mr. Fahy, you can’t fix stupid!

  17. Watcher55 says:

    Race Race Race, this is all we hear in just about every single conflict on our “racially balanced” island, this is all our kids and future voters and leaders hear, frankly I don’t give a toss what colour our leader happens to be as long as his or her focus is on the greater good of our country and not themselves and their friends, sure it will never go away but we need to stop it clouding the issues we are trying to manage, its indicative of our society that a dispute or disagreement between two persons of the same race is just that, a disagreement but if the EXACT same disagreement takes place between black / white….its likely going to be branded as first a racial issue and so long as that’s the first item on the agenda we will never get anything done around here.

  18. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Mind Games. Dense Smoke and cloudy Mirrors.

    You may have no doubt discovered that when a person finds out that they are loosing a debate you will often discover people will chance the subject or if they are particularly skilled your opponent will change the subject several times during the discourse .

    You know to old adage, Bull ! baffles brains.

    Building mountains out of mole hills is another debating ploy, along with distorting the truth,however ,taking it to the next level never seems to work.

    Things can go down hill real fast when a debate resorts to insults and eventually ending up in the gutter when profanity is introduced into the conversation.

    A marriage usually falls apart when money becomes to topic of conversation.

    The Non Mariners Race is graphic illustration where the ship eventually sinks before your eyes.

  19. me says:

    I take the ferry and I am happy to find other ways to work so the minister can sort this issue out! They can’t just strike when they feel like it! Lets see how long the BIU can support these guys!

  20. bluebird says:

    The FERRY’s cost about $15Million per year.
    The FERRY’s revenue is about $650,000.Six hundred and fifty thousand per year.
    from the Bahamas all the way down to Barbados.
    They are all Private Enterprise,employee people,make money and pay taxes.(Unlike Bermuda)
    IT IS THE SAME WITH THE BUSSES.They will both have to go.

    • PBanks says:

      Are you suggesting that there are no government-run bus services in the Caribbean?

  21. Looking in says:

    When will the PLP elect a white guy/gal to their leadership?

  22. Cow Polly says:

    “Any person who takes part in, incites or in any way encourages, persuades or influences any person to take part in or otherwise acts in furtherance of, a lock-out, strike or industrial action short of a strike that is unlawful…is guilty of an offence and is liable – on conviction on indictment to a fine of five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for two years or both”

    fingers crossed………..double crossed…….. and toes too!

  23. Silence Do Good says:

    I really do not understand the Union on this one. If I go to work every day and tell my boss my tools are broken and I cannot do my job, then it is up to the boss to correct the situation. If my boss does not correct the situation, I still show up ready to work. My boss has to answer the questions and take responsibility for no services running, while paying me to sit there and do nothing.

    The union Members walking off the job in frustration does not solve anything except now the bosses do not have to pay you. This does not get the ferries or tools fixed faster. It just makes the employee look bad for stopping work.

    Do not worry my brothers if the tools and equipment were so bad the work will stop naturally and you will still be getting paid. Government will have some explaining to do with the public regarding no service. Pick yourselves up, dust off your frustrations and return to work to get paid. When everything stops working they cannot blame you. Do not give them a reason.