Videos: BIU President On Drivers Overtime Pay

March 11, 2015

BIU President Chris Furbert held a press conference yesterday [Mar 10] to provide information on the circumstances involving the bus operators and overtime pay.

The press conference followed after a statement from the Ministry of Tourism Development & Transport on Monday [Mar 9] which said an “offer was presented to bus drivers to pay all overtime at time and a half,” however the drivers made a decision “to reject the payment of overtime at time and a half.”

Dan Simmons, the Director of Public Transportation said, “Unfortunately the allocated budget for overtime pay has been exceeded. We cannot pay overtime and when we have an unprecedented large number of operators out, as we are experiencing now, we are unable to cover their shifts which results in run cancellations.”

“Currently the bus service is running with minimal disruptions,” Mr. Simmons said on Monday evening. “However, we are not in a position to pay double time for operators who will be asked to work on their days off so we do anticipate that there may continue to be occasional cancellations.”

Video #1 of Mr Furbert’s press conference

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Mr. Furbert said, “After talking to the bus operators and allied workers about the cancelled runs, and about the double-time for time and a half, they are very concerned about a number of issues.

“One of the issues that they are very concerned about is the double-time for time and a half… is it going across the whole of Government. And of course we told them we are not aware of that, we put the suggestion on the table to the Minister three weeks ago, so I think it’s just right now the Department of Public Transportation and that’s going to affect the double-time for time and a half. So that was the very concerning to them.

“The other things that they raised concern about was the whole thing about the Tourism Authority and how it would appear and they are getting taxpayers money, people are getting bonuses and those sort of things, and they question why should we have to do double-time for time and a half, recognizing that they have given up 19 months of furlough days. They have also been on a wage freeze since 2011, so they have done some things on behalf of the country to sacrifice.

“And let me just remind the general public and Bermuda right now that in 2011 — for 6 months in 2011, from July 1 to December 31, 2011 — the BIU government workers worked overtime for straight time, and we saved the Government some 3.5 to 4 million dollars, and the overtime numbers reflect that.”

Video #2 of Mr Furbert’s press conference

Mr Furbert continued, “So, when you see the statement from, I guess the Cabinet Office and the Director, yesterday, saying that we have unprecedented sick leave or unprecedented absenteeism related to long-term sickness, related to vacation leave and those sort of things, you have to ask yourself the question: why is it that it seems like just in 2015 we have this problem?

“This problem has existed for quite a while now. I can tell you I’ve been President for nine years, and every year for at least the last six years, Dan Simmons has called me anywhere between November – December telling me that he’s all out of money and he doesn’t have any money left.

“And the reason why I know what he is saying is true is because last year during the budget reduction group talks, we actually got a copy of the breakdown of all the overtime that’s being paid for the unions, and that crystallized for me, as the President of the BIU, why Mr. Simmons has the problem that he has.

“Out of all the departments that have an overtime budget, DPT had the least per month overtime allotted to their budget for overtime,” added Mr. Furbert.

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Comments (39)

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  1. Dessie says:

    Personally, I’d rather the buses didn’t run to avoid paying overtime money that this country can’t afford.

    • Mockingjay says:

      So Govt. OVERSPENDS by $43 Million, BTA Board Members getting…well we know the CEO is getting $1,000 a day, $180,000 for a tent and $77 Million for a sailboat race and NO MONEY!!!!!!!

    • las says:

      guess u don’t use the bus or u would not say that

  2. swing voter says:

    reality check….no money = no OT = no service….Use the mini buses to cover the small/short routes….keep the long haul routes fully service. now where is my consultant fee?

  3. Enough is Enough says:

    I’m so tired of hearing the unions declare that they have sacrificed for the country. The reason we are in trouble is because we are overpaying an inflated civil service. They should be getting straight time for overtime! Those of us in the private sector don’t even get that.

  4. Truth is killin' me.. says:

    “For the past six years…”If you keep doing the same thing and expect different results!!!!

  5. Sad says:

    The BTUC put forward the option to pay overtime at time and a half durin the furlough negotiations.

    If they renege on their offer then the Governmeu has every right to reinstitute furlough days or table the Public Reform Bodies Act or mandate that the Union pay back the tax payer funds from the Berkeley performance bond.

  6. Ed Case says:

    Government should simply end ALL overtime and run reduced services for reduced pay. We will get by – as it will be truly a shared sacrifice.

    Eventually, the bus drivers will ask to do overtime for straight pay. I hope the answer will be no – you had your chance when you turned down time & a half.

    This however will take someone with testicular fortitude. Our Government doesn’t seem to have any.

    • Regina says:

      Grow a pair and PRIVATIZE!
      (And I mean NOW, before we are embarrassed on the world stage during The Americas Cup!)

  7. Turtle says:

    Better privatise the transport services and stop the nonsense of over time and fakes sick leaves!!!!! Stop the abuse , ee all pay our taxes we want the buses running on time! Privatization and if you dont want to work fine! Other one will take your place

  8. Nobel-prize-winning poet T.S. Eliot’s observation is relevant to centos: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.”
    The B.I.U. need to work with the people and cease this crap we see going on for far too long with the bus drivers refusing to accept time and a half when asked to work over-time. Enough is too much!

  9. hmmm says:

    SO what Chris is saying is tha BTA which is privatized is better to work at, more opportunity and incentives. Therefore Privatize the Buses.

    Well done Chris for pointing out that a form of Privatization is better for workers. Why are you holding back Chris…get onto the government to make it happen already.

    • somuchless says:

      The bta might be run privately but the funds to operate are given by gov.

      • hmmm says:

        Less funds than when it was public.

        Would likely be similar with the Buses….a lower commitment with a more efficient and rewarding service.

    • flikel says:

      This is not what Chris is saying.

      The BTA kept all the Dept of Tourism employees, did not reduce their pay and now have bonus provisions. Also, the BTA has new senior management posts, which did not exist under the Dept of Tourism. Thus, the wage bill is much higher for the BTA compared to the Dept of Tourism. The BTA may be private, but Government pays the bills.

      So, shall we privatize the bus service, keep all the employees and pay them more tax payer money?

  10. flikel says:

    “The other things that they raised concern about was the whole thing about the Tourism Authority and how it would appear and they are getting taxpayers money, people are getting bonuses and those sort of things”

    I have to agree with this point. How can BTA bonuses be justified when all other Government workers were heavily criticized for not accepting continued furlough days, and the bus drivers are asked to do overtime at a reduced rate.

    If Government money is so tight, why is the tax funded BTA giving bonuses….especially when all other Government workers do not get bonuses and were being asked to take furlough days and hence take cuts in their base pay?

    • sandgrownan says:

      Because the BTA will be judged and held accountable on results. Rather like any private sector employee even though the seed money is coming from Government. Remember, that the BTA has a mandate to be ultimately self funding.

      Try that with Public Transport? Bring it on…

      • flikel says:

        Aren’t most Govt workers judged and held accountable for results, especially senior members of the civil service? There are plenty of hard working, professional folks in Government who reach their objectives and are held accountable. Why aren’t they given bonuses, and not asked to take paycuts?

        When the BTA is self funding, then can do whatever they please. But until such time, why is our seemingly cash strapped Government complicit in they awarding of bonuses….while asking all other employees to take pay cuts?

        Aren’t the hard working folks in the Ministry of Finance who travel the world instilling confidence in foreign investors so they will loan us money or buy our bonds, and hence keep the country functioning, achieving something important and being held accountable for their results? These folks are being asked to take pay cuts….but the BTA folks all have bonus provisions. Is this fair?

        • Greenie says:

          “Aren’t most Govt workers judged and held accountable for results?” I almost spit our my coffee when I read this. You can’t be serious. NO ONE in the civil service is ever held accountable, ever. It is virtually impossible to get fired from the civil service. Tall me, how many heads rolled over Port Royal? Over the $800 million that the auditor said couldn’t be accounted for? Berkley, TCD….you all know the list.

          • flikel says:

            Then why give the BTA employees bonus provisions? No one got fired or laid off from the Dept of Tourism and they were all transferred over to the BTA.

            So the same people who presided over Bermuda’s declining tourism industry are now in the BTA with the same or higher salary, which now includes a bonus. Is this fair?

  11. Mr Furbert said he did not believe there were many cases of sick leave being abused, and said the union had requested a printout from management of the first quarter’s sick leave so that possible instances of abuse could be discussed.
    One driver abusing privileges is too much! Someone needs to visit these,(so called sick)drivers also contact their M.D. to find out / justifiable reasons for them staying off of work for months upon months,(and to add insult to injury) with full pay! No, this isn’t right :-(

  12. Lemon Tree says:

    Mr Furbert, I am glad you pointed out that the bus drivers worked straight time for overtime several years ago. So why make a fuss of time and a half now? Better some overtime than no overtime. You need to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty.

    Perhaps you need to work in the private sector for a while. Many of us in the private sector have had a wage freeze for more than 4 years! Some may work overtime for straight pay and some work extra hours without overtime because the work needs to get done and we are grateful to even have a job. Maybe its time that you wake up and smell the coffee.

    The people are fed up of this behaviour. The lack of attendance at your meeting speaks volumes. If you represent the people, why not let them have a ballot vote on the decision so THEIR opinions can be expressed without intimidation?? As parents, we teach our children by the way we live and how we act. What example do you think you are giving to our youth? I dont think its a very desirable one at all.

  13. flikel says:

    Why do so many people believe sick leave is abused and these, and typically all Government workers, are not really sick when claiming they are?

    In order to claim sickness for an extended period of time, doesn’t a Doctors note need to be produced? An employee cannot simply elect to claim sickness and stay home for a week without proper documentation and proof. Are we also saying the medical community is producing fake Doctor’s notes for these bus drivers and Government workers in general?

  14. Mr. Ed says:

    Well’ Mr BIU President – no matter what you say’ and how good or bad you say it – we simply can’t afford it — the money is all gone.
    My Nephew is a Bus Driver and he straight up says ” he’s lucky to have a Job” infect were getting to the point were anyone working
    is lucky to have a job.

  15. with blinders on. says:

    I have been working for a company that have seen my overtime rate cut right to straight time. I was mad at first, but this option have given my employer to give me raises through the years and personality made more money during this recession. Why?? My employer was more willing to give me extra work therefor i was still able to make more money and maintain they lifestyle I want to live. I was not worried about that the next person is making, I was just doing me and suffered little.

    Let that sink in.

  16. smh says:

    They should be lucky they have a job. Time and a half is plenty. Pur governement cant afford double time. Doesnt anyone remember what just happened? Like comon really. The bus drivers need to stop being greedy and just take what they can. If not they need to find someone who will take time and a half. Theres so many people without jobs.

    • frank says:

      The biu should call another meeting and put the overtime to a vote as a union member I know that
      This should have been done and so does Mr furbert

  17. Concerned says:

    Those bus drivers who have very negative and nasty Attitudes towards us the taxpayers, our families and our visitors need to receive HELP perhaps anger management or how to treat your own an others in other words how to be Bermudian the next time one acts up with anybody he/she will be reported to DPT and BIU

    • filobedo21 says:

      But are the public really reportering these bad drivers, I think not. The elderly don’t because some have experienced driver passing them by, when they have done so.

  18. Puhleez says:

    Chris Furbert is just doing his job. He is always going to push for more. He does not CARE about sacrifice and neither do the majority of those he represents.

    • filobedo21 says:

      Before the Government ran out of money, PTB drivers have had a cash cow from overtime payments. It’s been standard for some to have a shift regularly on their day off. Now there’s little chance of that continuing, they are sticking it to the public. Shared sacrifice??? Hah!

  19. Rasta says:

    These drivers get $90 per hour for working overtime,unbelievable but true!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      They all must have law degrees. Maybe some of them are doctors.

  20. X says:

    Which part of “there is no money” do people not understand. Be happy you have a job, be thankful you are being offered a full-time job and be thrilled there is over-time. Take the money, or there will be no job, full-time or over-time.

    The private sector have to do it – and frankly have been for a while. I pay my staff time and a half – it is the NORM. These govt workers are living in cloud cuckoo land. Let them run a business of their own for a while and then they will see reality.

  21. Chingas says:

    I pray for this island

  22. Bermuda123 says:

    I don’t think the BTA comparison is relevant, however as the BIU obviously does, then try this.

    I am sure the BTA bonuses – if any are awarded – will be for “results delivered against objectives”. If the BIU want something similar for their bus drivers, we can do that – how about a bonus when you take no sick days for a year, when you turn up on time every day, when you get positive feedback from the traveling public for example? THEN you can make a comparison to those getting bonuses. Bonuses relate to good performance, overtime is just more hours. Think about it.

  23. MAKE MY DAY says:

    This guy Furbert and the BIU are a definite *MENACE* to Bermuda and it’s citizens!!!

    Something has to be done (OBA Gov’t) about this joke-of-a union who are constantly holding the Island to ransome – for their own “greedy” ends!!