Videos & Updates: Industrial Action At BELCO

November 25, 2015

[Updating] While the full circumstances remain unclear at this time, a number of BELCO employees were seen leaving BELCO this afternoon [Nov 25] and making their way to BIU headquarters.

Bernews understands a meeting is now taking place inside the BIU building with a number of BELCO employees present, with unofficial reports suggesting that employees may have some form of issue relating to benefits.

We are on scene outside the Union and have asked BELCO for clarification, so will update as able.

BELCO staff Nov 25 2015 (2)

Update 3.24pm: BELCO said, “With regard to today’s industrial action, BELCO’s office closed this afternoon shortly after 2:00 p.m. as a result of industrial action. The Company has been given no official notice of the action or reasons for it.”

Update 3.45pm: Photos of BELCO staff leaving the Union

BELCO Nov 25 2015 (4)

BELCO Nov 25 2015 (3)

BELCO Nov 25 2015 (2)

BELCO Nov 25 2015 (1)

Update 3.49pm: BELCO worked are now waiting outside BELCO

IMG_20151125_154454

Update 4.04pm: Live video stream added below [note - removed at 6.06pm]

Update 4.25pm: As you can see from the live video above, everyone just remains gathered outside. We understand some form of meeting is taking place right now. We continue to receive unofficial suggestions that this dispute is over benefits such as pensions/insurance.

Update 4.51pm: Someone just spoke, saying meetings are taking place inside, and asking all workers to stay, and we continue to receive word the dispute is over pensions and insurance matters.

Update 5.25pm: Apologies for those few minutes of technical issues with the live stream we just had, all is fixed now!

Update 5.40pm: As far as the actual dispute, it does appear to revolve around benefits.

Bernews received an email which alleged that the “current retirees at BELCO have been told that the medical insurance scheme that they retired under has changed.

“In order to maintain the insurance promised to them, retirees on a fixed income now have to pay $270.00 per month. Previously BELCO paid the entire insurance. They were promised this benefit when they retired.”

We asked BELCO for a response and they said, “We are currently engaged in litigation with respect to this matter and as such BELCO is unable to comment.”

The email also said, “BELCO has told future retirees that the medical benefit that they were promised will no longer be available to them when they retire.”

In response, BELCO said, “This matter has been referred by the Minister of Home Affairs to the Essential Industries Disputes Settlement Board, and as such BELCO is unable to comment.”

And finally, the email said that BELCO “told some salaried staff that the early retirement benefit is no longer available to them. This affects some future retirees by as much a 35% drop in their monthly pension.”

In response BELCO said, “The changes in pension apply to employees who joined the Company prior to 2006 and were enrolled in the Company’s Define Benefit Pension Plan [DB].

“In 2011 the Company froze the DB Plan and all employees were moved to the Define Contributions [DC] pension plan. The changes were made to reduce operating expenses with respect to liabilities and volatility associated with continuing with the DB Plan.”

Update 6.06pm: Things have tapered down, so we have removed the live stream. We will have a transcript and video of the announcement, however it just concluded and in the meantime a replay of the last section is below, if you fast forward [by dragging the bottom bar] you can hear the announcement.

44-minute live stream replay of part of the gathering

“Management have acquiesced to our request, they will put a stay on the pension talks,” the speaker said. “So you have won,” he added, receiving loud applause.

Update 6.29pm: BELCO said, “At approximately 2pm, BELCO’s offices were closed due to industrial action. The matter has now been referred to the Department of Workforce Development. BELCO’s Management and the ESTU have agreed to meet to further discuss the issue.”

The 3-minute video of just the announcement is below:

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Posted by SOML on Saturday, October 10, 2015

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Comments (76)

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  1. Rico says:

    It’s ok, Hurricane season is over.. Wait them out..

    • Clarification says:

      Actually, hurricane season is not over. A few days to go.

    • sippintea says:

      Have you seen the weather outside

    • smh says:

      How rude. Here we have middle class working Bermudians trying to live off the scraps of our $$$$billion dollar economy and this is how they are treated. A damn shame, no respect for livelihood of the MIDDLE CLASS AVERAGE BERMUDIAN

    • Bermudian says:

      Idiot

      • What stupid comments from a bunch fools calling these hard working guys ungrateful but when your electricity goes out you are praising them. You find that you appreciate people when you need them, just like the garbage collectors, you all talk a lot of S!@# about them but don’t let them pick up your S!@# for a few weeks.
        Ungrateful Bast!@#s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • joe says:

      So you think the Hurricane Season over, and what about the winter storms,and anyday where trucks pull down low wires,this has happened as of early this am.pole hit people loosing power.Hello anyone home?

    • I liked their formation and discipline , reminds me of the brothers in Malcolm X movie when they marched to the hospital from the police station.
      Just LOVING it.

  2. serengeti says:

    And they wonder why the government is taking them to court.

  3. selina says:

    When you see the office staff participate then you know this isn’t over some petty issue.

    • Concerned says:

      When one walks they all walk that is why they are out there. Nobody has the guts to stand against illegal strikes

      • selina says:

        This is where you’re wrong. Many workers here have stayed on the job when the guys have walked out. This I know.

    • The People United Will Never Be Defeated !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Rhonnie aka Blue Familiar says:

    Okay, I’m going to hold off on any judgment until we know what’s what, but I will say that I’m not comfortable with a walk out. For me a strike, and I consider this to be a strike, is a method of last resort and only following the CBA, if there is one, rules.

  5. Commodore JB of BBIRYC says:

    Maybe they are unhappy about the ridiculous cost of electricity in Bermuda as well!

  6. Original pond dog says:

    I am sure the employees will appreciate not being criminalised before all the facts are known.

    • Zevon says:

      why didn’t they follow the terms of the collective bargaining agreement?

    • Not exactly says:

      If they are being criminalised, it is because they are striking without giving notice. The CBA is full of rights and responsibilities for both employers and employees.

  7. Natalie says:

    Ungrateful workers.

    • selina says:

      Can you explain why they are ungrateful. I see dedicated employees in these pictures.

      • hmmm says:

        not working = dedicated workers!!???

        SMH

        • Marge says:

          These workers are standing up for their rights….what would you say if the shoe was on the other foot ? Belco workers are fantastic…..

          • There is a certain segment in this community that STILL believe that employers can do whatever they want and employees just roll over and play dead.
            That’s why they endorse Third World workers to come here to work so they can do whatever they want.
            Stand firm guys,your forefathers are smiling down on you.

      • Zario says:

        You assume they are dedicated.

      • Serious Though says:

        where you stay, next Hurricane season, the ungrateful workers don’t show up….

    • Smh says:

      Lol @ Natalie you have no clue!!! SMH

    • Grizz says:

      Natalie, is your Pension safe and secure? If your answer is yes, please be quiet!

    • smh says:

      Look at you, loyal slave to the system and perpetuating inequality as the status quo.

  8. Ann says:

    Not knowing the facts I will not make a judgement, but…. These guys work HARD! Let’s not forget how they got us through the last storms. I’ve never felt Belco was a well managed company, possibly shareholders and their use of funds could have been used more wisely!

  9. Kangoocar says:

    It has now been reported that this issue concerns changes to their health insurance, can someone remind these ungrateful workers that legally employers only have to provide HIP!!! Any better health insurance provided should in fact be appreciated!!! We can all thank the unions for instilling this spoiled behavior in these un great full workers heads!!!!

    • Ann says:

      In most civil servant organizations I believe the staff are way under worked and over the top compensated, but I’m really on the fence about Belco, those guys rock when the power goes out! I have my feelings that Belco could be a bit top heavy??

      • Spit Bouy says:

        @ Ann,

        Agreed.

      • Lone Wolf says:

        I agree with Ann as well. Belco employees stand alone from most others. They are hard working and very good at what they do. They fix problems faster than any other company I know of in Bermuda and they usually do it in the worst possible weather conditions. I know I wouldn’t want to be fooling around with electricity in the rain, high winds, hurricanes, etc.

        I am of the opinion that because they work harder, faster and better than most, then they deserve better benefits.

        I usually disagree with any form of striking but in this case I support the Belco workers, regardless of the issue.

    • Original pond dog says:

      the empty vesselages the loudest sound. if you don’t know anything about what’s going on you should be quiet. Unfortunately that has never stopped you before.

      • Original pond dog says:

        * empty vessels make the loudest* dang autocorrelation.

        • Kangoocar says:

          Being you are defending them so vehemently??? Can we all be assured that you will never complain about the rate of your electricity bill from Belco again????

          • smh says:

            The workers didn’t set the price..they pay the same bills to the SHAREHOLDERS as you. Wow people are really that dumb…

          • Original pond dog says:

            not defending. just saying that neither you nor I knew the circumstances and therefore should not be judging. Having said that according to the live feed, they were cutting some pensions by as much as 37%. Would you have stood for that? Please.

            • Kangoocar says:

              @pond dog, and all others that can’t see the forest because of the trees??? This is the sad reality and net result of the plp ways of doing things!!! All the plp sheeple were cheering the likes of DREB and Col Burch on when they were chasing 5000′ expat workers out of hear which really means about 7500′less electricity users are presently on the Island!!! These 7500 electricity users where the difference of keeping the Belco VERY generous benefits and now having to cut them!!! How dense has Joe public really become now??? For those that need the answer, just read the attacks on me on this very thread!!! And when it comes to the Belco workers and their dangerous job??? Give me a break!!! I for many years have worked around very hazourdous chemicals, in fact one of them was used by the nazis to kill millions of Jews!!! This silly nonsense is laughable at best??? Once again I will say, when you chase 5000 expats and their families out of hear, what the heck did you think was going to happen???

              • selina says:

                Belco has had many workers over the years exposed to asbestos and toxic chemicals. Many that do have the chance to retire are dead within a year or fighting cancers, mesothelioma or other illnesses. This is a fact from personal experience.
                Oil prices dropped drastically but we aren’t seeing a change in our bills are we.
                Yes, many people did leave but they are still making huge profits each year.
                Would you be willing to let your employer slash your pension by 35% or more? These guys have been contributing to this fund for years and would like to have full pensions to retire.

                • Herb says:

                  @ Selina, I have to correct you on one point, yes the oil prices have dropped and so has your bill, the fuel surcharge is about half what it was a year ago.

              • Original pond dog says:

                @Kangoocar the minute you put politics into this you exposed yourself. You are wrong and have no idea what the employees have been promised or already given up in the name of austerity. All of your comments end up the same blame the PLP. This issue had nothing to do with PLP or UBP or OBA. Your argument is weak so you fall back to your same old rhetoric. Push your agenda in another forum.

    • Commodore JB of BBIRYC says:

      You are a tool. Happy and taken care of workers means a productive company. Of course they should get more than HIP. Especially since BELCo charges a fortune and pays their share holders huge divideds instead of investing in the employees and their infrastructure!

      • hmmm says:

        Are you sure about that?

      • Tired of it all says:

        Huge dividends? In 2014 they cut dividends from 21.25 cents per share to 8 cents per share which is a 62% decrease. The per share payment was 39 cents in 2005 just for some perspective. So owning 1000 shares nets you $80. Hardly huge considering those 1000 shares will cost you $5,050 at current price of $5.05. In 10 years the share price has fallen from $45 to $5.05.

        Just wanted to point that out. Not arguing the healthcare point btw.

        • Got me Rollin says:

          Oh boo hoo. That is a heck of a return on 5 grand. Put that in the bank and see what you will get on it.

      • Causal Observer says:

        The fact that they pay all of their employees health insurance, pay highly generous overtime, provide some enviable basic salaries, operate a training program that hundreds if not thousands of past and current enpmoloyees have benefited from, kind if debunks your statement that BELCo does not invest in their employees.

        • Wisdom says:

          You are ill informed! They pay health insurance because it is law – if they could get away with it they would! Pay/highly and generous over time – the workers sacrifice! Training – perhaps you need to do some research and not go off of hearsay! They do not invest in their employees the way you or the rest of the ill informed public think so! BTW everyone is so upset with BELCO employees etc and the supposed benefits the get – what about the banks and other institutions who reap the same benefits that have not been touched yet! You get upset at people who stand for something and babble your mouth on your misinformation!

        • selina says:

          Since when did they start paying all the health insurance. A large portion is paid by the workers.
          That overtime comes at a price (payroll tax takes a portion of this).
          The pay isn’t what it should be. When you have secretaries, receptionist,clerical workers, nursery school workers and nannies making more than the guys doing these jobs.
          The noise in the power house, the toxic chemicals, live wires and diesel engines alone are enough to make some people run from this place.
          You need an inside tour! I can arrange for you.

    • Grizz says:

      @kangooclueless when u sign employment contracts things are agreed to; they can’t just change pension payouts midway through cause they feel money ain’t right. Yes, health benefits should be appreciated but when you agree and sign for something, that’s what you expect. Your pension money is probably safe too! Easy to call someone ungrateful cause it doesn’t concern YOUR money!

    • Make a new plan Stan says:

      Some of their jobs involve heights and working with high voltage etc. I remember a man DYING while he was working. It seems more than a little callous to call them ungrateful regarding their insurance and pension when some of them do such high risk work.

      I realize that it’s important to some people to only see the worst in every industrial action BUT not every blue collar worker is lazy, greedy and ungrateful.

    • frank says:

      you are a real stupid person hurry up and leave bermuda

  10. selina says:

    These employees have dangerous jobs and put themselves in harms way every day. The hours (some do 12 hour shifts) is very demanding on a persons health.Insurance coverage should be top of the line. For years they fought to get dental and vision care added among other things they weren’t covered for. The company has been threatening to make changes BUT it looks like they forgot to get clearance from the staff. Companies can’t make changes and then send out information after it’s done and not expect there workers to down tools.
    Belco keeps saying they are losing money year over year BUT what about all the companies that now fall under ASCENDANT umbrella (with there recent buyouts and takeovers. Does that sound like they are losing anything.
    Many families will be affected by this if it goes through (many of these guys cover a spouse or child/ren).

    • Causal Observer says:

      The issue is post-retirement healthcare coverage as such the guys currently on the front lines are not being directly affected as they are still working and lose no current benefits.

      But let it go to arbitration either way.

  11. Zevon says:

    Defined benefit plans, free medical insurance for life, they live in a dream world.

    • Grizz says:

      So Zevon, who are the real dreamers? The EMPLOYEES didn’t come up with the pension plan, EMPLOYERS gave them an option and they chose it! So ask yourself again…who are the dreamers?

      • Zevon says:

        Anyone who thinks they’re going to get lifetime free health insurance these days is living in a dream world.

    • YADON says:

      You need to stop spreading false info. DBs were frozen long ago. Every benefit they enjoy is earned. They work in the most demanding and dangerous occupation on the island.Most people work 40-50 years of their life at BELCO,Destroying their bodies being exposed to all manner of toxic chemicals, more than a murderer serves in jail.THEY HAVE SEEN FRIENDS DIE in the line of duty. They are highly skilled and educated and can not be replaced( ask belco exec they have tried, cant even get people from Zimbabwe to stay.)
      So dont be mad at them because you are an unskilled replaceable loser with no negotiation skill.

  12. Causal Observer says:

    So BELCO has been paying all retired personnel’s healthcare until they die?

    That’s a pretty sweet deal. No other company I know does, or can afford, that. BELCO is no different.

    I see a rate rise needed in the very near future to sustain this expense along with lower demand than previous profitable years.

    Get ready Bermuda. We are all going to see our monthly expenses grow and disposable income become even less.

  13. the workers have stood their ground and WON their cause for withdrawing their labor

  14. Dan DeSilva says:

    Isn’t Belco making a profit? Consistently? Fuel prices went down but our bills did not. They can’t afford $270.00 per month for retirees that were promised the cover when they retired after good service to the company?
    Belco needs to explain why profits don’t allow for service benefits to retired employees who built their company.
    Just my two cents- or Belco’s- spent it when I sent this e-mail…

    • Herb says:

      @Dan i dont know what your bill says but my fuel adjustment has certainly gone down, by half of what it was a year ago, and just in case you dont know, BELCO DO NOT set the fuel adjustment rate, thats done by the energy commission.

  15. Coffee says:

    Didjaever notice that Belco workers rarely live beyond the age of 64 ? Go get the well deserved benefits you lot !

  16. PANGAEA says:

    While I am thank full to all the workers for the power that BELCo provide.

    May I ask when is BELCo going to embrace the 21 st century.

    Burning 100 % fossil fuels or anything for that matter is not the way of the future.

    Surely BELCo research must have brought them to a satisfactory and viable conclusion, or are we still to be offering our prayers to the oil gods.

  17. Sage says:

    Oddly enough the lights stayed on while that lot went for popcorn at Liberty Theatre.

  18. Rajihhh says:

    While they are out can I spearfish or lobster dive in their oil tanks while wearing my very tight wet suit that is a about five sizes to small for me?

  19. some beach says:

    Govt must dissolve pension scheme…

  20. Ed says:

    I respect these workers for being calm and orderly. I hope they get their benefits back.

  21. niner3zero says:

    As a frequent visitor to Thailand, I honestly don’t know how people afford the extortionate price of power here. In order to save money I make a point of spending weeks and weeks visiting the cultural attractions in that fantastic land. I plan on retiring there to save money on electricity.

  22. PANGAEA says:

    Makes you wonder how many other companies are ripping off their employees in the name of profit , it is all about an honest days pay for a honest days work.

    I have seen BELCo road crews work the poles carrying thousands of volts during freak storm conditions and if that in not dedication to perseverance and hard work under extreme conditions ,I don’t know what is.

  23. dawn says:

    I actually took the time to read every comment. The only thing I have to say is buckle up Bermuda contrary to what anyone may say the future for a great many people is going to get very hard.

    For many of us we have lived very materialistic with little regards for the future. The extreme poverty that has existed for years in other countries way larger than Bermuda has been for the most part unknown to us.
    And while there is that sector of society who are truly struggling financially yet there still exist a selfish me and mines mentality.

    Most don’t care until situations occur that directly affect them.
    Should we plan for the future most definitely, it would be irresponsible not to. Can I safely say that all I’ve paid into a fund will be there when I need it? I would hope so but in reality there are no guarantees in life especially in regards to money matters.

    Personally I have no faith in any man made institution for it is subject to fail at anytime.
    My trust in purely in the Living God.
    I have no fear for the future n I have no fear for any negative comments that may follow.
    For the record I work at Belco and I have nothing against anyone standing up for what they believe. Whatever the consequences

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