BPSU: Say No To Government Reform Agenda

October 6, 2014

In a report designed to provide information on their stance on Public Bodies Reform Act, the Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] has called on public servants and members of the public to “say no to the Government’s reform agenda.”

The position paper said, “It is evident that the Government is forcefully driving its agenda of neo-liberalism, an agenda that can be described as shifting control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector.

“The BPSU is of the opinion that the establishment of the SAGE Commission and the Efficiency and Reform Authority is less about true reform of the public service but designed to carry out the Government’s principal methodology of reform, privatization.”

“The Union implores all public officers to consider this legislation a threat to their current terms and conditions of employment,” the paper said, adding that: “The BPSU calls on all public servants and members of the public to ‘Say No’ to the Government’s reform agenda.”

The full 15-page report is below [PDF here]

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  1. LiarLiar says:

    I completely understand the Union’s position as they believe that such changes will adversely affect the dues they receive (rightly or wrongly).

    However, the inefficiencies in the civil service have been around for a long time and just haven’t popped up in the last few years. I say that because the BPSU states that the senior civil servants that can effect thus much needed change, but in reality they have failed to do so and as such we have the problems that we have now due to such inaction.

    A prime example of the latter being failure to agree upon a new bus schedule since the late 1990’s! That’s right the respective Union and their Government counterparts have been unable to agree upon a new bus schedule for nearly two decades.

    Also, I found it interesting that for Union negotiations with public service employees include the Union member/representative negotiating with the Union. To say there is an inherent conflict of interest is a bit of an understatement to say the least!

    Hopefully the Government will also listen to some recommendations put forward by the Unions in terms of the wording of this document to make it more attractive to the Union reps and their members. This has already occurred with the incorporation of Union suggestions from the May 2014 draft bill as indicated on page 9 of the BPSU document. And from the BPSU’s document it appears that they have little qualms over the UK’s Public Bodies Act 2011 and thus Government should incorporate more aspects of this UK legislation into the BDA version.

    Either way I find it positive that the Union and Government find it necessary for reform in our public bodies and the status quo is no longer sustainable.

    • hmmm says:

      Union is a business. Less people paying them dues not good for their business.

      We all know whose interests they are looking after and it isn’t Bermuda’s

      • LiarLiar says:

        I am fully aware, hence the need to understand why the Union feels the way they do about the proposed reform. This is made very clear in their document in which they state there are both pros and cons of mutualization/provatization/outsourcing, but then only list the cons.

        I am not too sure why they are against BDA mutualisation as within their document they seem to praise (mistake or not) the UK’s approach. I mean allowing the current employees to become shareholders (essentially the owners) of the new entity at a cost of nothing to them personally I figured would be looked upon as a form of empowering these particular workers (i.e. becoming a shareholder/part owner of the company).

        Privatization is frowned upon by all Unions worldwide, so no surprise there at all. It is just strange that despite past privatization/outsourcing that has occurred in BDA (i.e. airport services, recycling pick up, TCD, Global Hue etc.) the Unions have not come out full guns blazing as they are now.

        Either way the fact that civil service wages coupled with interest payments on our gargantuan debt accounts for approx. 2/3s of Government revenue is simply unsustainable. So if the Unions and/or or any other locals have no issue with this then I believe they essentially forfeit the right to complain about the lack of investment in infrastructure and social programs as well as any austere measures that have to be implemented to ensure that the civil service is paid.

        I was hoping that the Union would have included their solutions to the problem that affects all Bermudians (unionized or not). Hopefully that will be forthcoming in the near future.

        • Rise and Shine says:

          There seems to be something you are missing or albeit just plain ignorant to. Consultation with UK Unions revealed that there was no Government department in the UK that was outright mutualized. Your comments are misleading and sway towards the “liar liar” position. So maybe your user name is befitting. I personally don’t understand what people are missing. This Island belongs to the people. Why give away and privatize money making resources that belong to BERMUDIANS. Why allow the Government to strip you of your birth rights. Why give grants to privatized establishments. Don’t we have debt to pay off?

          What the Unions are saying is that they acknowledge the debt and the need for reform, however, let’s find cost saving measures that can be instituted before we sell off our resources and sell out our people. There are social and economic ramifications that come with unemployment. We must not lose sight of the need to take care of OUR people whilst working towards economic recovery.

          Another thing the objective of Unions is not profit generation and rather advocating for fairness and good governance. If profits were their main agenda why put yourself on the frontline and fight the injustices. Most persons involved in the union have to volunteer their time and it takes a true UNION (google the definition) minded person to devote their time and efforts to the union movement. Unionism whether your a member or not has a way of affecting all workers (unionized or not). So when the unions are out there fighting for fairness, jobs, equality and justice, you all ought to be appreciative for if it wasn’t for unions we would not have vacation leave, maternity leave and many other benefits.

          • LiarLiar says:

            What is my birth right?

            A bloated and unsustainable civil service? A $350mn annual budget defict? A $2bn+ national debt? A $2bn under funded pension plan? If this continues then my children will have no ‘birth rights?’

            Are buses and ferries my birth right? If so why do I have to pay taxes for them on top of monthly fees to use them? That is just one exampel BTW.

            But seriously please explain what birth right of mine will be affected by this policy?

            I do not work for a Unionised company and I have all those benefits and they wouldn’t disappear if the Union disappeared tomorrow. There is labor legislation in place and the Unions have become nothing more than businesses that rely on profit generation to survive. Even Mr. Chris Furbert noted that the Union is no different than a business, hence the need for the Union to raise their dues on their members despite having agreed for them to take a furlough day.

            But I also don’t have the ridiculous benefits that Unionized members do either that are bankrupting this island. Read the SAGE report on how abused sick days are costing around $10mn to the taxpayer annually.

            On a last note, why are you against mutualization? I mean granting the current employees stakes in the firm I would have thought would have been viewed as a way to empower the workers that the Union seeks to empower? or is the opposition more to do with the fear of losing the workers’ fees?

            PS: Why hasn’t any of the Unions come up with alternative solutions to creating a more effective civil service? It is not like our dire financial situation popped up overnight? Why haven’t they produced one single solution as of now?

    • Kunta says:

      SHUT DE WHOLE ISLAND DOWN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Jeremy Deacon says:

    So who will win? Government or the unions? *reaches for the popcorn …..*

  3. San George says:

    I am a big supporter of the unions. However, until the unions have a better proposal, something needs to be done about the debt and the size of the civil service.

    In the mean-time it would be nice to see the unions stop groveling and begging. The unions should be prepared to use the power that they have as a counter to a bully government.

    Let the games begin.

    • SMH says:

      San George,

      I don’t think ‘shut the island down” mentality is what’s needed right now when in the end, if we don’t work together we’re all going to fail. Let me out this in a simpler way, the Gov. is trying to bail out a boat that is almost submerge and about to drown everyone. The unions have the option to either pick up a bucket and help bail out the boat or rock the boat and sink it with everyone aboard. There are no winners here!

      • Kangoocar says:

        @smh, I totally agree with you, and I will add, once again the bpsu has it wrong when they say, this legislation is a direct threat to all its members employment!!! The real threat is, if something is not done about this huge debt and consistent deficit situation, then there will one day soon be no money to pay them!!! And that is the REAL threat to their jobs!!! The BPSU needs to stop thinking of themselves first, and be totally honest of the situation we are all in!!!!!!

      • Kunta says:

        SHUT DE WHOLE ISLAND DOWN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • JUNK YARD DOG says:

      Hey SAN
      Good Afternoon.

      You do not seem to know what brought Great Britain to its knees 50 years ago from which it has never fully recovered. We are lucky they don’t tax us.

      UNIONS and the DOL.

      UNIONS , they do not build ships and cars they are no longer are an industrial nation. , they now plant potatoes . Germany is the great industrial notion that sprang from the ashes.

      DOL , Social insurance is a wonderful thing until the money runs out.

  4. hmmm says:

    This govt hasn’t bullied anyone. You are making things up !!!

  5. Just a matter of time says:

    Many civil servants both in senior and middle management and throughout Govt are qualified professionals in their field that come from or have had experience in the private sector. This is a key fact that is never discussed in the scaremongering rhetoric and vitriol against those ‘lazy’ civil servants. Private sector acumen is constantly used throughout Govt, in many ways stricter than the private sector and countless of papers, reports and proposals for reform and efficiency have been written time and again over the years and gets submitted to the real higher ups. But then it sits in some Minister’s office and it quite often comes down to the political will of these politicians to carry out these initiatives submitted. Let’s be real about this now. According to the reports I have read, Ministers and the senior civil servants have the powers already to effect reform. So why use private persons to do it? Because there is no political will and that’s why the Govt needs this ‘Efficiency and Reform Authority’ arm to use as a scapegoat to slice and dice up the civil service. Yet the UK Act does not have such an authority according to their Act which only deals with Quangos not Govt Departments. No one is against reducing cost and streamlining Govtg including the civil servants. Civil servants are well aware of the debt and annual deficit that gets hammered to them constantly. They have not had a raise in over 4 years and have taken a pay cut in an effort to be team players. This move does not show trust and transparency from this Govt at all. I definitely see this OBA as a one term Govt after this if not for nothing else.

    • SMH says:

      “Just a matter of time” OK, then, what are your suggestions to:

      - pay off the $2B debt (due to be refinanced) within the next two years and the massive annual interest this costs us that provides us no benefit
      - fund the $1.5M in underfunded pension plans
      - continue to support gov. definied benefit plan with the amount of people over 65 growing at a rate faster then people turning 18 and paying into the pot?
      - make up the taxes for our dwindling population?
      - continue to support non profit organizations
      - continue to subsidize medical costs for the elderly and sick
      - meet the annual cost of our new hospital wing
      - make up for the tax revenue that has been lost with the exodus of 5,000 expats and Bermudians moving overseas?

      In light of the above, shouldn’t the Gov. employee who mows lawns have comparable pay and benefits to someone in private industry because that is not the case now is many, many instances. If not than why? Why is the Gov. worker entitled to be paid more, for a guaranteed job, than someone who doesn’t not have that. Do you think as a tax payer that’s fair because I don’t

  6. Starting point says:

    “The BPSU believes that the Civil Service Executive, which includes the Cabinet Secretary, Head of Civil Service, Financial Secretary and Permanent Secretaries possess the knowledge and skill sets to drive true reform in the public service.”

    So it would seem then that the senior management of the BPSU, and CIVIL (majority of PSs’) service should be sacked as they have failed in this mission. There is little to no evidence that this group of leadership has accomplished any of their stated goals, therefore step one would be to remove the management of the BPSU and Civil Service and replace it with competent individuals who as they themselves state, are ready to drive true reform in the public service.

    Everyone expected a change when the OBA was voted in? Why, the same people mismanaging our country are still all working within the Civil Service, its not like management changed with a new political party. Difference is this political part has it roots in the private sector and is used to performance based measures, it must be a nightmare for them to try and sort this mess out.

    The above statement from the BPSU is exactly why we are where we are today, a lot of talk with zero action, zero creativity, zero business sense. I would have liked to think the BPSU were less like their ‘brothers and sisters’ in the BIU but in general they are the same, the BPSU just owns a thesaurus.

    • SMH says:

      Starting Point: Excellent comments the problem is the civil service has not and is not capable of monitoring itself and that start from the Cabinet office. The rise in the civil service you need to be able to do two things. One, bide your time until the people above you retire or leave and Two, don’t rock the boat or make any of your coworkers look bad. Why do you think Magnus Henagaulf got the reaction he did with his SAGE competition entry. He broke the golden rules of covering up the truth at all costs

      • Portia says:

        SMH, this is no different from how things work in the private sector.You can find evidence of waste and incompetence in many local companies. And, some of the biggest whistleblowers have been in large companies like Enron, Global Crossing, etc. I guess we can say THESE businesses are not capable of monitoring themselves either, hmmm?

        • Smh says:

          Portia, in the private sector, he who doesn’t work, doesn ‘t have a job for long. Blowing the whistle on accounting irregularities like in the case of Enron has nothing to do with a bloated, and in some cases, ineffective civil service.

  7. serenegti says:

    I guess they don’t want to lose their 14 weeks sick leave plus carry forward plus 6+ weeks vacation. The rest of us are the suckers who pay for this stuff.

  8. Fisherman says:

    Furby does not want to lose all them paying members.Remember what he said “the union is a business”. Yeah,a business to keep them running it in luxury while the workers do not even get strike or layoff pay.

  9. Coffee says:

    Civil servants say no ! CIVIL SERVANTS SAY HELL NO !

    • Kangoocar says:

      @coffee, more nonsense and NO solutions from you?? Why don’t you take a break already??????

    • Family Man says:

      Yeah, that’s the reaction I get from them too, whether its the Post Office, W&E or Immigration.

    • Creamy says:

      They want to keep those cushy jobs with 14 weeks sick leave. The rest of us idiots have to live in the real world.

  10. Just a matter of time says:


    To your questions:

    - pay off the $2B debt (due to be refinanced) within the next two years and the massive annual interest this costs us that provides us no benefit. JAMOT: Govt Depts and sections can be streamlined now without a private individual Efficiency and Reform Authority to do the Govt’s dirty work. Be more creative with redundancy packages e.g. work with the private companies to replace a foreigner in the first instance (may not be too popular but it’s a start). Senior executives are told to cut their budgets every year from the mandate of the Budget Office that uses private sector zero based budgeting methods until recently I am told. Introduce stipends and fines for going over budget. Stop the Ministerial interferences that put wrenches in the works. Stick with the budgeted fiscal plan with more accoutability. Staying in budget can be challenging when a wall falls down or emergency capital upgrades need to take place. Overtime can definitely be reduced. Stop paying $millions in rent a year to private sector businesses who profit nicely or renegotiate the rental terms effectively and not automatically.

    – fund the $1.5M in underfunded pension plans. JAMOT: Have the Ministers follow the actuary’s recommendation of what were painless catch up rates in the past for increased contributions (actuary reports are all public info) and we would not have had this significant problem. It’s still doable. There are examples of other jurisdictions that have been successful. Again, political will overcomes social.

    – continue to support gov. definied benefit plan with the amount of people over 65 growing at a rate faster then people turning 18 and paying into the pot? JAMOT: Nothing wrong with DB plans and their methodology. Just the way it was managed in the very beginning in the 80′s. DB benefits can be revised. Look at increasing the retirement age. Can’t help it if the pot was dipped into too early in the plan. DC plans offered singularly to those who do not have investment experience is not socially responsible and not a quick fix. You will have more persons needing Govt assistance than ever when their plans dry up due to market forces. Other retirement strategies are needed like saving more and education and awareness.

    – make up the taxes for our dwindling population? JAMOT: Create a more comprehensive income tax strategy that is more fair and equitable and a win win for the IBs and the Bdian workforce. Introduce itemized deductions like other tax jurisdictions e.g. charity donations. Need to be extremely creative here to make it attractive to the IBs as well. The answer is there. Foreigners are needed here no question, but not always at the expense of displacing Bdians. If a foreigner gets a housing and gas allowances, why not the Bdian? This has never worked fairly. Millions of $ in concessions to hotels and retailers need to be curtailed asap. Students should pay to ride the bus again (I did!). If they can have a cell phone, they can pay for bus fare. More public forums for revenue raising ideas. Why a SAGE but nothing similar for revenue? If we are pushed and given the opportunities to offer input, ideas will come. And yes, look at a national lottery, taxing online gaming. Blow up that St.G’s cut and get those ships in there, what are we waiting for?! smile. More creativity needed with the airlines who are killing us in fares. It’s not my area but we need something. Our own airline? Leasing? The hotels should also offer better package deals to those not in the top 1%.

    – continue to support non profit organizations. JAMOT: You will always have pure cost centers in Govt no matter where you go. Govt IS a non profit! Mostly funded from tax revenues. More private partnerships directly related to a tax base. Bda’s charity system is one of the best in the world.

    – continue to subsidize medical costs for the elderly and sick JAMOT: Use cheaper jurisdictions for overseas care that is vetted for high quality though less popular and cheaper than the Laheys and Johns Hopkins who LOVE sick Bdians by the way. Education and awareness are needed to change this mindset to change providers. Offer incentives for premium reductions for better health behaviors. Push generic drugs. Medical community need to be more on board. BHeC making a good effort but need more.

    – meet the annual cost of our new hospital wing JAMOT: A tough one I agree. Medical tourism to offset?.. Curtail emergency visits. Concentrate on real acute care. Long term care to be reviewed and reduced.

    – make up for the tax revenue that has been lost with the exodus of 5,000 expats and Bermudians moving overseas? JAMOT: First you don’t sell off our island to the highest bidder as a knee jerk to offset the losses and lose our inheritance forever. Look at offshore banking maybe as another pillar but still maintain our clean treaty statuses and have Bdians have access to the wider capital markets. The local banks are not helping to curtail costs, they need more competition. I do like the Economic Tripartite forums being conducted now. More of these and more bipartisan collaboration. And no, the PLP do not want to destroy the island so stop the nonsense talk. We all live here and we are all concerned for our future and our children’s future. We also need to deal with institutional racism which is alive and well in order to offer young Bermudians the opportunities. Let’s not be afraid to have the dialogue because the lack thereof is killing our society which is rotting from within as a result. Stop destroying any and all efforts to deal with this sensitive subject matter. Stop denying that racism on this island does not exist. Even white foreigners I know find the ‘polite’ racism here on this island an enigma. How can we be good for outsiders when our own house is not in order? Other countries are way ahead of us in this regard. We need to be far more progressive in this area which is a major part of the solution.

    No doubt that my efforts at suggestions to SMH will be ripped to shreds but I do not claim to be any type of guru either. I am just a passionate Bermudian concerned for my island home and its future. There is always room for better ideas. The main thing is that we had the creativity to create the successful IB pillar in the past and refine it for decades (opportunities for tourism can always be worked on our beaches and beauty are still one of the best), we need to have faith in ourselves and get out of our own way to be creative again. The answer is there to bring it into existence. But slashing the civil service and using it as a punching bag touting public vs. private and all the accompanying coded language is not the answer and creates divisiveness. Austerity measures have never been too successful anyway.

  11. Triangle Drifter says:

    The party is over. The cops, or in this case, the debt is at the door. The BPSU can see it Anyone with more than two brain cells can see it but the BPSU & BIU cannot accept it. Years of Government giving in to demands above the inflation rate have caught up with them.

    The jobs & the perks have to go. To be fair, the bloating of the civil service was started long before the PLP. The PLP accelerated the disaster to the point where we are at today.

  12. Alvin Williams says:

    It is the question of the economic survival of Bermudian families; a reality that is never mention by those who will throw government workers into the street.
    They claim that this must done to save Bermuda; but I ask to save Bermuda for who? It certainly does not appear that they have the Bermudian in mind when they talk about saving Bermuda.
    I do not see the policies of this government doing anything for the Bermudian? All I see is policies that will benefit people that this government is allowed to come into our country; policies which will impoverish Bermudians and forcing many to consider to flee to England where they can live on social benefits. If this is not a conspiracy it certainly smells like one. This saves this government from looking in the faces of those who don’t have employment prospects in their own country. A conspiracy to create a Bermuda without the Bermudian.

  13. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    There are some who find their employment UN-interesting boring and beneath their intellectual capabilities and skill level.

    I would have thought that the B.P.S.U. or any Union would as a matter of principal would encourage employee relocation after proper evaluation for those who do not derive
    job satisfaction ,when, for them,going to work becomes laborious and quitting time becomes a welcome relief.

    In order to present to the Government with a highly skilled well educated efficient work force, I hardly think that any Union would support those persons in positions who would be better suited to move to a more suitable position even with in The Government.

  14. Conservative says:

    Is this designed to sell state assets to families who have been made less wealthy by 14 years of PLP Rule and the growth of IB and overseas CEOs who now wield more power than the Greens, Dodwells and traditional 40 Thieves Family Groups?

    Monopolies don’t work, surely our 40 Families have lawyers and economists now amongst their ranks that have advised them against the major risks to society and social stability, in the Information Age, to giving away income producing State Assets to friends?

    We need to accept that IB runs Bermuda and that totalitarian policies will create political and social instability which IB companies must identify as RISK FACTORS to profitability to their Shareholders.

    Go back to the drawing board Government this is not going to work.

  15. 40 THIE____S says:

    We aint getting those big rents anymore and we are only employees in IB, come one now, you must expect that by selling govt services and assets (departments) to us we can be relevant and influential in Bermuda once again

  16. swing voter says:

    I hate this headline….I’m a unionist but can’t believe the obvious bias toward restructuring of any sort. I’m also a tax payer that doesn’t want 80cents of my tax dollar supporting unreasonable levels of over employment in the public sector…something has got to give Jason

  17. PANGAEA says:

    In order for any Government to modernist and re invent its self there are several objectives which need to be achieve.

    The old ways of doing business is no longer practical or sustainable .

    Government’s departments are a service industry in need of modernization being supported by taxation; fees; and licenses, that is money you have worked for because,”It does not grow on trees”.

    We no longer can “Burn the candle at both ends ”

    As the Country or and any business for that matter moves forward certain services no longer become viable or necessary,look at the changes in Banking and communications.

    Basically the whole world is moving faster as a result of greater efficiency.

    Many changes over the past 50 years have brought about the advent of computers; assembly line production; and robots all of which have impacted the human hands on work force which also needs to modernize .

    The industrial revolution changes with product mass production impacting many Nations.

    The cultural revolution has changed our way of doing business.

    Living in the past is no longer a viable option, vision and forward thinking promotes financial progress.

    Air travel has brought us all closer together. The tremendous advances in communication TV and Telephone have made great strides.

    We as a country are faced fierce with global competition,to put it bluntly their tourist industry will eat us alive.We have no alternative but to “Up our Game” in all areas.

    The new Bermuda is a SERVICE INDUSTRY.

    Twice the work in half the time may save our childrens future.

    “Time is money”.
    ” Money puts food on the table”.

  18. bluebird says:

    Ofcourse the BPSU does not want any reform.
    They want Government to go borrow another $276Million this year so they can continue there “BLOOD SUCKING”