Video: BIU President Responds To 2014 Budget

February 27, 2014

BIU President Chris Furbert held a press conference today [Feb 27] to respond to the 2014/15 Budget, which was delivered last Friday, and said that in light of the pay cuts agreed to by the Union, Finance Minister Bob Richards should explain why the over spending occurred.

Mr Furbert said, “The Bermuda Industrial Union is very concerned about certain line items in the Budget of 2014/15 that the Minister of Finance presented the Country on Friday February 21, 2014.

“The Bermuda Government had asked the Bermuda Trade Union Congress [BTUC] for their assistance in helping to reduce the current deficit through cost cutting measures. The Unions and Associations have made certain concessions in the MOU of July 22, 2013 to assist the Employer which must be upheld in good faith and not be taken for granted by the Employer.

“Therefore, during the period of the MOU the Employer agrees that it will continue to eliminate wasteful Government spending and reduce the national debt.”

“However when we look at the Budget for 2014/15 and compare it to last year’s Budget 2013/2014, on page 38 of the current budget under Salaries, Wages, Advertising & Promotions, Materials & Supplies, Grants & Contributions and Travel you will note that only one of these six line items was under budget which was salaries.”

Mr. Furbert added, “We also note on page 35 that the Ministry of Health & Environment overspent their budget by $11,353,000.00 or 5.7%; and on page 36 the Ministry of Tourism and Transport overspent their budget by $l2,478,000.00 or 11.75%; and finally the Ministry of Public Works overspent their budget by $4,391,000.00 or 5%.

“We would also like to point out that there were two other Ministries that overspent their budget,first the Ministry of Finance overspent by $l2,050,000.00 or 5.1% but you can see why this happened because the interest on debt payment increased by some $12,725,000.00 and second the Ministry of Community & Culture overspent by $8,540,000.00 or 10.5%, but you can also see why this happened because Financial Assistance increased by $9,000,000.00 so there is a real explanation for why these two Departments budget went over, however the same cannot be said about the other Ministries overspending.

“Therefore the Minister of Finance needs to explain to the BTUC membership and the country why this over spending occurred,” said Mr. Furbert.

“All other Departments were either on budget or under budget and they included; Non- Ministry Departments, Cabinet Office Departments, Ministry of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Education & Economic Development, Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“On Page 28 & 29 of the Bridget the Minister speaks of savings through Mutualization, Privatization or Outsourcing through an umbrella legislation entitled Public Bodies Reform Act which will be brought before Parliament in this session.

Mr. Furbert noted that the “Public Bodies Reform Act will also establish the Efficiency and Reform Authority to transform the delivery of services to the public to achieve financial savings and enhance public use of such services.

“The Authority, which will report to the Minister of Finance, will have a board consisting of seven members, five members from the public, two members representing unions and ex officio members from the Ministry of Finance and the Authority’s CEO.

“I am not sure how the Minister came up with the make-up of this committee, but certainly it would appear that the Unions were selected as some kind of tokenism because it looks like the deck is stacked against them with only two members. I therefore ask ‘How much of a say will the Unions truly have on this committee with only two voting members?”

Mr. Furbert mentioned the list of Government departments the Minister said they are considering for “mutualization, outsourcing, or privatization” which include Airport Operations/Causeway, Emissions and Vehicle Testing, Aircraft Registry, Ship Registry, CITV, Waste Management including Tynes Bay and Garbage Collection, Vehicle and Equipment Operations and Maintenance, GEHI and Health Insurance Department, Parks Maintenance, Water and Sewage, Department of Social Insurance, Highway Maintenance, and Conservation Services.

The BIU President continued, “These are all public services that the Minister of Finance is asking for the Committee of the Public Bodies Reform Act to make recommendations to the Government on the services they think should be either set up as Mutualization, Privatization or Outsourcing.

“It is the Bermuda Industrial Union’s opinion that the Minister of Finance indeed has the cart before the horse, because he has not had any meaningful dialogue with all the stakeholders concerning the future of public services.

“Therefore by setting up this Public Bodies Reform Act to make these recommendations to take away public services is premature to say the least. The Premier promised Collaboration and Transparency. Where is it? This is a very serious situation that we are talking about so we need to get it right.

“When we speak about meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders we are referring to the general public, Employers and the Unions and/or Associations before making these major decisions that will affect public services.

“The Minister of Finance said on ‘Let’s Talk’ on Monday February 24, 2014 that he and the Premier have had a conversation with the Unions about laying staff off and the Government is not looking to do that. Therefore we have to consider something else that we can do which is either Mutualization, Privatization or Outsourcing of Government jobs.”

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Comments (38)

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  1. Family Man says:

    As a paid up member of the BIU, can I get a copy of the BIU’s 2012 audited financial statements?

    What is the breakdown for salaries for union officers?
    How exactly are my weekly dues being spent?
    Have there been any other ‘loans’ or transaction with related parties like PHC?

    • flikel says:

      All good and valid points. However, this does not discredit the questions and concerns that were addressed.

      So often we ‘shoot the messenger’, instead because we cannot ‘shoot the message’.

      Yes, the BIU has explaining to do….but so does the Govt.

      • inna says:

        Well which one comes first? Methinks its the BIU that has some splaining to do!

      • Build a Better Bermuda says:

        I have to ask the question as to why the BIU never raised these questions when the PLP kept overspending their budgets, or did he not care then? All of a sudden he cares now? Sounds like a bit written for him by Mr. Burt

    • Dragging A Lure says:

      You definitely sound like a paid up member of the stupidity club. Probably hate the union but get all the benefits that you don’t deserve. Attend a BIU meeting or ask your shop stewart to get the information for you.

      • Mazumbo says:

        Those type of people are called SCABS, they have no loyalty to the organization but suck the benefits just like the SCABS that give their dues to charity and receive full benefits.

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        It’s ‘shop steward”, not “shop stewart”.

        If it’s so easy to get that information, where is it?

      • Furburger says:

        You calling the BIU the stupidity club?

    • Wil says:

      You are a member?! Go around to the union and ask. If they do not give the information to you, make a formal complaint to the union. If you still do not get a reply, go to your lawyer. You are a paying member, you have every right to that information. Go to the Gov’t finance department and ask for this info. If they don’t have it ask why not?
      Get your brothers and sisters to back you up! Call a meeting for your department, see your Union rep, and ask him/her for the info you require. Call a meeting for all Union members to come out because you want to know whats going on at YOUR union. You even have the right to use the Union building for such a evant.
      Get involved with the union, get on the General council, find out the info you require.
      Become a MEMBER not just a mouth piece, that’s sits around complaining about the Union.
      Hell,…. run for Cris’s job.
      I could go on and on, but you get the point.
      And by the way….I am not a member of the Union. I really don’t like members like you who just b**** and moan about the union but don’t want to get involved. You are the member who just wants to benefit from the union when its comes to a pay rise!
      This post can go to any club member of any organization not just the B.I.U.

    • Robert says:

      As a paid member, go around there and ask to see them and they will be made available BROTHER !!!!!!!

  2. Terry says:

    You guys could win snap election if you kept your mouths shut and worked for the good of the country.

  3. Bull in a hurry says:

    While I am concerned with these overspends I am also concerned that brother Chris was never once concerned when the PLP was repeatedly over budget!

  4. MW says:

    Remind me how the finances of the BIU and PHC are, kind of ironic that he is commenting on finances.

    • inna says:

      LOL i was thinking the same thing, as it looks kind of funny furby reading from a financial document!

  5. RawOnion says:

    I read the title and couldn’t be bothered to read the article. I cannot see anything from Chris Furbert’s point of view or value any sort of intellect he may think he has about the budget especially when he cant budget his own agencies.

  6. street wise says:

    Furbert worrying about Gov’t over-spending!! BWAA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!

    But not saying a word while the plp were in power….

    Not much credibility in anything Chris says, IMHO.

  7. 32n64w says:

    “When we speak about meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders we are referring to the general public, Employers and the Unions and/or Associations before making these major decisions that will affect public services”

    Where was the meaningful dialogue when your members illegally withdrew service last week?

    How is abandoning bus service for students and workers meaningful or constructive.

    If Mr. Furbert and the BIU want to be taken seriously they need to start acting professionally and respect the public that pays the salaries of their many members.

  8. Coffee says:

    Chris , because of the dynamics of Bermuda , privitization and mutualization of the Government assets to a select few WILL CREATE BY DEFINITION A SYSTEM AKIN TO APARTHEID . Don’t allow that to happen . MacPheeism must never get a foothold in Bermuda . Shawn Crockwell and the other Three Wise Man are burning one awesome hole in the tourism budget at rapid fire rate . They have absolutely no shame . The people must hold them accountable simply because they….have a huge appetite for the good life .

  9. Truth is killin' me... says:

    All of a sudden……………………………….

  10. nuffin but the truth says:

    it’s about time furbie came clean with the biu monies before running his yap!
    also,last I knew,the biu is not a government party,so the budget has sodall to do with you.

  11. Tricks are or kids says:

    Can’t stand those that are stuck in a ‘time warp’…..whenever there is talk in moving forward, the past (WHICH WE WILL NEVER GET BACK)is ALWAYS brought into play….Personal attacks…..I thought this article was in response to the budget but then I see BIU, PHC …..SMH….Stick to the issue at hand (the budget)……People love to throw stones……

  12. Kangoocar says:

    Furby on the VSB news with a straight face was claiming that he can’t see how a private company could take over the Parks Dept and save us money, is he serious or just worried about the decline in union income from the former union members??? Any private company could easily do what they do for less, heck, I will start a landscaping business here and do it and really show him the savings!! ( before any of the naysayers criticize what I am saying, I owned a large landscaping biz in Florida 10 yrs ago, but thought I was done with that?? ) I really don’t want to do that again especially because there is many local companies already set up to do it!! I can say with out a doubt I personally could save the tax payer $millions on what they are paying now!!! I say let’s privatize with a combination of of the best companies in the business now in BDA and watch the savings roll in!! Well done Min Richards for looking into this!!!

  13. Sage says:

    Absolutely amazing. When do the people who follow this guy wake up ? WHEN ? Is this just pure BS to pander to the BIU faithful ? Does it mean anything that the BIU created most of the financial disaster that we have by entering into a sweetheart CBA with the PLP for the sole purpose of delivering votes ? You can disagree with the OBA or any other group but this island is broke…it can’t borrow any more money…it is running a $300 million deficit every year.

    Mr Furbert I do realize that you will never admit the sheer stupidity and hypocrisy for which you stand but I truly hope that the day comes when your own people call you on the carpet. That may be the day that at least some of the sheep who follow you blindly finally wake up to the fact that the only person getting rich these days is YOU

  14. Frederick Smugless says:

    I work for an insurance company as a junior account executive. Tomorrow I respond to the budget.

    That is easily as newsworthy as Furball”s efforts.

  15. Take it Easy! says:

    Until they continue 2 brake the law i can give 2 F**** what Chris and the BIU/PLP think! The BIU/PLP talking about a budget? What a joke! They have not produced financials since god knows when while the PLP hadn’t looked at the books since 2005! I will take Bob’s budget any day!

  16. Coffee says:

    Chris , because of the dynamics of Bermuda , privitization and mutualization of the Government assets to a select few WILL CREATE BY DEFINITION A SYSTEM AKIN TO APARTHEID . Don’t allow that to happen . MacPheeism must never get a foothold in Bermuda .

  17. Will says:

    Funny, i don’t remember many press releases from the BIU regarding the budget when the PLP were in power, especially regarding overspending.

  18. FrankTalk says:

    Two questions:

    How can “concerns” be raised before there is anything material or specific to discuss:

    “We want to look at offering the employees the opportunity to run x service as a private enterprise.”

    “We are concerned”

    “About what?”

    “You know, about stuff”

    Before the Efficiency and Reform Authority has had its first meeting how is it that one is “concerned” about the number of “union” votes?

    Surely if your ideas are good and sound you don’t need cronies?


  19. Wondering... says:

    It’s shocking to me that the BIU leader is “very concerned” about items contained in the 2014/15 budget, when he never expressed any level of concern about overruns by Proactive at Berkeley Institute which jeopardized millions of dollars of the Union’s money directly via their performance bond.

    • Redman says:

      @ Wondering…

      Boom!! Spot On Pardner.

      It seems none of the Union Members where very worried either.

  20. JustAskin2 says:

    “… the “Public Bodies Reform Act will also establish the Efficiency and Reform Authority to transform the delivery of services to the public to achieve financial savings and enhance public use of such services”

    Does this mean that John Q. Public will be paying for trash services, etc.?

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      No, but that is what he would like you to believe. Scare tactics & deception.

      Can you imagine what it would take for a sanitation company to know who has paid their bill & who has not? What is to stop people from putting their trash with those who have paid. You know they would. It is the Bermudian way. Always looking for domething for nothing.

      As far as the public is concerned trash is picked up as normal only there won’t be anymore interuptions for ‘meetings’.

  21. I’m sorry Chris but….what …what made you think anyone wants to hear you …now….all those years you had your nose at the rear end of plps’ butt…and nothing…there were people working in the contsruction industry that had to be taught their job when dey got here ,then they sent all their money home to their respective countries….your not thinking straight if you think about it…straight thinking that is…and if there is a short fall in pensions …It-Is-No-Wonder….the reason answeres erry time you speak…neglect your people for fouteen years then pander to them now?…you muss think we’re dopey or sum such rubbish…