30 Minute Video: Premier’s Labour Day Speech

September 3, 2017

[Updated] The Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU] hosted their 36th annual Labour Day Banquet on Friday evening [Sept 1], with Premier David Burt serving as the guest speaker for the event.

BIU Banquet Bermuda, September 1 2017_7397

We will post a photo gallery and additional information as able, and in the meantime a 34-minute video of the Premier’s speech is below.

Update 5.51pm: The Premier’s full speech follows below:

I am aware that protocol has already been established, but quite frankly, as a new Premier, particularly as a Premier of a Labour Party at a Labour Day banquet, I want the Office of Premier to bestow all of the glory, all of the respect, all of the formality of the Office, onto tonight’s proceedings. So, with your indulgence I wish to state:

To Bro. Chris Furbert, President of the Bermuda Industrial Union;

To the Officers and Members of the Bermuda Industrial Union;

To the Officers and Members of the Trade Union Congress;

To the Ministers of Cabinet and Members of Legislature;

To the Officers and Members of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party;

To everyone who has come tonight in the spirit of solidarity, as the Premier of Bermuda, I bid you Good Evening and Congratulations as you celebrate Labour Day 2017.

My Brothers and Sisters……..Welcome To History!

I say welcome to History because that’s precisely where we are! We are living history right now. When historians wonder what it was like after that landslide victory. When they wonder what the atmosphere was like… they’ll be looking at this night; the night, six weeks after the General Election returned a Labour Party to Government…the night when Labour celebrated its triumph!

Historians will say that on the 18th of July 2017, the People spoke…no that’s not right. On the 18th of July, the People shouted! They screamed! They yelled! They……to use a word…EXHALED!

I say “they” but that’s what the OBA would say isn’t it? “Why didn’t they vote for us?” or “I can’t believe they didn’t vote for us.”

So, let me change what I just said. The People of Bermuda shouted! We screamed! We yelled! We, to use a word, Exhaled!

But the People didn’t just vote for the PLP;

The People voted against the status quo, and for a new way;

The People voted against the discrimination of Bermudians, and for Bermudians first;

The People voted against 2 Bermudas, and for social equality;

and the People voted against runaway capitalism and for Labour!

That’s right: For Labour!

I’ll be told off for this on Tuesday, but I still need to say it. During the campaign, it was clear that the PLP thought Bermudians should be working before…or even alongside non-Bermudians; the other guys thought non-Bermudians were the only priority. So, when I say ‘Labour’ won, it’s no small thing.

If you doubt how important that fact is, I want to relate a story that one of my Minsters told me… yes, they are here tonight.

While settling into their new role, members of staff were contacting them on WhatsApp, on Facebook, by email, and telling him things that had been happening over the years. Discriminatory practices; Bermudians being held back and down while non-Bermudians were excelling.

The workers, Bermuda’s public-sector workers, were telling horrifying stories of pay differences, of benefits for some not all. About disciplinary actions that seemed arbitrary. He wondered how he could tell them it’s a new day in Bermuda. How to let them know that he understood and would correct it?

He told them: “I hear you loud and clear…in actual fact I hear your pain; but I need to tell you something. Up until July 18th, your thoughts about Bermudians in the workplace, the feelings you had when you saw injustice, the values that your parents instilled in you…well before July 18, you were the revolutionary, the rebel, the troublemaker who wouldn’t just shut up and do their job; and they were the establishment. Well those days are over! If anyone thinks they can justify not doing what we said in the campaign by putting “Bermudians First”, then they are sorely mistaken. Let me be clear… being Bermudian and working in Bermuda using all of your potential and being properly rewarded for it, is not revolutionary, that’s the way it should be…the way it will be! So, welcome to the new establishment!!”

I can tell you…that Minster is deadly serious too…You know when your Momma used to say “don’t test me!” Oh…maybe that was just my Mom. Anyway, I wouldn’t test this Minister’s commitment to Bermudians.

It’s very important that we appreciate exactly what happened at the last Election…the story is the Popular Vote.

The Popular Vote is important because we were under severe attack. The OBA outspent us 10:1. The media was biased in ways you cannot imagine; and the more desperate the OBA got, the nastier they got. But in the face of their lies, tricks and bribes – remember the $2500 for every child born? – we maintained our message.

In the face of all of that nonsense… 59% of the Bermudian public endorsed us and our message of equality. They want us to crush the idea of 2 Bermudas; and with the help of God and you in this room we will dismantle structures that makes Bermuda’s wealth work for one Bermuda while it flogs the other.

In an election where young Dennis Lister III beats Jeff “it’ll take a miracle to beat me” Sousa; and in an election where Christopher Famous puts Bob “airport for sale” Richards out to pasture; 24-12 in seats sounds about right doesn’t it?

I have been waiting for almost two months to be able to address a room of friends like this. I am grateful for the opportunity, because ever since the General Election, people have been asking our MPs, Ministers, and Members, “What now?” or “What comes next?” and “How do we use the mandate we just attained.”

To answer that question, I would like to rewind a bit, to come at the question from a different angle. As we must remember how we got where we are.

You may remember the former Government was being less than honest when they wanted civil servants – their own workers – to accept another furlough day, rather than even discuss other cost-cutting exercises that would not affect people’s jobs and wages.

You may remember the former Government wanted to introduce a ‘pathway’ to Bermudian status for some of Bermuda’s residents.

Well in the face of that anti-Bermudian aggression; in the face of knowing that you have not been treated fairly, three men emerged. In truth, they emerged at a time when my own party was not as responsive to crises as we could have been, but it doesn’t matter because as the saying goes: “Cometh the hour…cometh the Man”. In this case however it was more “Cometh the hour…cometh the Men.”

I don’t know the details of how they strategised; where they did so; nor can I tell you how many meetings they had in advance of launching and ‘going public’, and I really have no idea how they picked the colour red… It’s best I offer no comment about that choice!

But I can tell you…there are not many more impressive sights than seeing thousands of workers marching through Hamilton demanding fairness.

There are not many more impressive sights than seeing 5,000 workers hold vigil, hold firm to their views, beliefs and rights, and holding firm to each other on Cabinet grounds! And there are not many more powerful sights than seeing 5,000 Bermudians stop the OBA from reneging on its platform promise not to give Bermudian status to thousands of non-Bermudians.

And so, the men who came when the hour came, are Brother Chris Furbert, Brother Jason Hayward, and Rev. Brother Nicholas Tweed… brothers please stand up and allow us gathered here tonight, to give you a small measure of the massive amount of respect and credit that you deserve for inspiring, creating, and leading The People’s Campaign for Equality, Jobs and Justice.

That was just a small recognition, but brothers please accept all of our sincere appreciation, respect, and congratulations for standing up! Standing tall; and being counted!

But it wasn’t just the massive shows of solidarity during the Pathways catastrophe that set the stage for a Labour Party to win Government…sorry to win back Government; it was also the solidarity that arose to attack one simple act of unfairness in the workplace. In some ways, one act of cruelty in 2014 would set the stage for a Labour victory in 2017. Because it was about people losing jobs, it was a huge issue for one Bermuda; but there was nothing to see…no big deal for the other Bermuda.

It was the firing of a group of employees at Hamilton Princess…remember? In the face of arrogance, the BIU’s stance was simple: “you are wrong; it is clear; take them back.”

As it always does in the spirit of solidarity the BIU took up the cause of their brothers who had been fired; the BIU marched…is it coming back to you?

As the marchers went down Front Street, a woman on the balcony of a restaurant shouted at them.

You know, when you are on the frontline of social justice in this country, sometimes being shouted at is the best you can hope for; just ask Rev. Tweed if you really want to know what happens when you stand up for social justice.

The Government and the employer had been surprised by the march, but they were solid in their decision. But then the marchers paused outside of the Cabinet building and directed their protests at the building. That. Changed. Everything.

Actually, the woman shouting for the workers to “get back to work!” and for them to “be grateful you have a job!” was the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce. She was fired for her actions, but that act made Bermudians sit up and take note.

It was a pivotal moment.

Let me ask; do you remember what Bro. Chris said in reply? Even though his members had been insulted and harassed, the trade unionist in him came out in his response as he said:
“My opinion is still that she should not have lost her job, although I understand that what happened was serious — extremely serious — and as someone who has a position like Mrs McPhee had, you will be held accountable for your actions.”

Still…no anger and worried about someone losing their job. That is principled leadership.
Believe it or not that was 2014. Before furlough days, before AECON was given our airport, and even before the ‘Pathways to Status’ protest.

You see over the past four years, we lived in a Bermuda where almost every union in the country had to march. If you are here tonight at your first union function then you may not be aware of the effectiveness of marches.

In fact, just saying that reminds me of a story I was told by a friend. He’s a Black Bermudian and he told me that he had a friendship with a 52-year-old white Bermudian woman that has lasted more than 15 years. He told me it was a true friendship where they had many sensitive discussions about things and there was nothing but respect.

He said: “When Jonathan Smith’s book ‘Island Flames’ came out, my friend read it. While she was reading she would call me excited about things that she learned. She seemed particularly interested and impressed with the late Dame Lois Browne-Evans and her efforts to represent her clients, speak to the People, and spare two lives. She was blown away by the knowledge, and one day called me to say: “I will never underestimate marches again. My whole life I didn’t get it. I didn’t know why people marched and now I get it. I will never discount marching again. People march when they have absolutely no other peaceful avenue to achieve the change they want.”

Family, the effectiveness of marching is really about the effectiveness of solidarity. If you are connected with the workers, the builders of the economy and of the country, then chances are you can resolve issues by talking, negotiating, and empathising and marching is unnecessary.

However, if you feel that you or your perspectives are the only correct perspectives; if you feel that you alone know better than those you serve; and if you are so disconnected that you don’t care of how your decisions affect your own employees’ quality of life; then as my Momma said: ‘if you don’t hear, then you shall feel’.

The theme of Labour Day is “Celebrating Solidarity”. The solidarity that I have been speaking about so far is external; visual and tangible expressions that you can see. The marches and petitions; the Trade Union Congress press conferences; at those times solidarity is obvious.

However, the BPSU has been steadfast in its resolve and support of its President. That is internal solidarity… the confidence that comes with unconditional support. And as a result of the solidarity that Bro. Hayward received, the country benefitted from his fearlessness.

Solidarity has gotten us this far, but what I want to see is not just for us to celebrate solidarity, but for us to celebrate the result of our solidarity.

So, what next? Is solidarity only about marching and expressing frustrations? What do you do with a landslide victory and one of the most popular and consistent messages in the history of politics?

Labour was founded as workers wanted to ensure they got their fair share from those who, in most instances, inherited the land and the money to become producers.

With our election victory, we have won the tools to make the change, and that is the power to make laws and control the public purse, but that alone will not make the change to ensure that the children and grandchildren of today’s workers become the producers of tomorrow.

Well the Labour Movement and the Labour Party have the chance to write a new script for Bermuda. We can show the country that the lesson of solidarity is unity. Unity of vision; unity of purpose.

You see we already know success. Solidarity made four workers get their jobs back in 2014. Solidarity stopped furlough days in 2015. Solidarity ended Pathway to Status in 2016. And solidarity put the PLP in Government in 2017. Not demonstrations…solidarity.

Now that the People have chosen to trust and believe that our collective leadership can work together what can solidarity achieve? Solidarity… national level solidarity and unity.
Make no mistake, the overwhelming majority of Bermudians chose hope, and chose to believe that since, when given the chance, Bermudians will excel at whatever we set our minds to, they will be given that chance.

The PLP government will improve our education system; we will provide better training and invest in lifelong learning; we will provide more access to capital to boost entrepreneurs, but then what?

As a community of workers, we will not accomplish our dream of economic empowerment until we understand that through solidarity we must empower each other; using our collective efforts, we begin to harness the forces of economics to produce true economic empowerment.

We as Labour have an awesome responsibility to lead by example.

Today I walked to the Washington Mall for lunch, and I went to the food court [for the first time to get food]. I had about five choices, and I didn’t choose by what I felt like eating [I love Chinese food]. No; instead I chose where to eat by which restaurants had Bermudians serving there.

Having made my choice, I met a young Bermudian, Kevin Richardson, who served me my Burrito Bowl. You should’ve seen his face. His pride in serving his country’s Premier warmed my heart. And so there we were; he grinning because he’s serving his Premier, and me grinning because I just met a dynamic young Bermudian who made me feel proud to be his Premier… and the vibe was nice! That small action of community solidarity is powerful.

And so, what we must do is ensure that when the son of a worker comes back home to start a business and hires Bermudians; we must support him. When the daughter of labour opens the store, we must support her. By spending our money in the places that reflect our values, we place more importance on the role our values play in how we spend our money.

And when you are working for these business and they grow, resist the temptation to be envious of the profits that are being earned by the owner and start your own competing business. Ask the owner how you can be an investor or shareholder so that together both of you will be more prosperous.

The stunning victory has placed a microscope on you and I. Certainly we are being examined on our Labour philosophy; but more importantly on our ability to work together to produce the best Bermuda that we can.

Family, this is not a revenge mission. I repeat – this is not a revenge mission. Our fellow Bermudians are trusting us. They are trusting that the solidarity that produced marches, demonstrations; that demanded respect and change will produce a Bermuda that works for every one of us. The haves will keep theirs; but the have-nots will be helped to earn theirs too, just as people were helped in the past by the old establishment.

We will provide opportunities, but opportunity alone will not get us where we want to go. We must practice community solidarity so that we can celebrate that benefits of collective solidarity. That is your mission over the next 5 years. We will lead the government, but you – the workers – must lead in changing our approach to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of Solidarity. Let’s spend our money with those who appreciate our values.

I can tell you as sure as I am standing here tonight, we will demolish the elements in Bermuda that maintain Two Bermudas! Our Government is going to weed out the bias and the racism that has held this country in its grip for too long; that has cut-off potential and ruined access to opportunities by providing a mediocre education, unfulfilling jobs, and no ability to earn enough to own a piece of the rock.

We must use this moment in history to push ahead with an agenda that betters lives for workers.

We must implement a living wage. We must implement a living wage. We must implement a living wage.

We must reduce the cost of living.

We must ensure that all people no matter the colour of their skin, their gender, or their physical abilities, will get the same wage for the same work.

We must ensure that employers give the same benefits to all of their staff so that Bermudians are hired, treated, and rewarded fairly.

We must examine the historical injustices of stolen land and ensure that justice is done.

We must ensure that we get to the bottom of the horrors of December 2nd 2016 where workers and seniors were viciously assaulted, and fix the situation so that it never ever happens again.

As I am about to take my seat I want to leave you with this little story about the people we serve and our perspective about service.

There was a barber in a city with a little shop with loyal customers. One day, a new barbershop opened up on the street and the new barber immediately put a sign in the window saying: ‘Best barbershop in the city!’ A month later, another barber opened a shop on the street and he put up a sign saying: ‘Best barbershop in the country!’

One of the first barber’s dwindling but loyal customers said: “Hey Mate, you better get on board and put a sign in your window too, it seems to work for those other guys.” The barber thought about it awhile and then agreed. The next day customers began to fill his shop again. His friend came in to congratulate him on brilliant his new sign. The sign simply read: ‘Best barbershop on the street!’

Like the barber, we will never forget who we serve, and on whose support we stand. The OBA wanted foreign praise so badly they forgot about their own people’s suffering. They had so much vanity they forgot they are actually public servants. Well we are the people who we serve; so, we do not forget who we are. We will not forget. We cannot forget.

My Brothers and Sisters, let tonight be the beginning of the rebirth of Labour in Bermuda.

The union is active; the Government is Labour; our mandate is strong. We can be the best Labour Movement Bermuda has seen, and we will do it; Together…in Solidarity.

United We Stand – Divided We Fall!

God Bless You and Thank You.

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Comments (25)

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  1. Not bad for Sons of B!+€#£$, ey SpongeBob?

  2. cpm says:

    Seats on planes to anywhere are filling fast
    What will Burt say on Tuesday to keep the sheepies in line

  3. Ringmaster says:

    Lots of feel good comments to the PLP voters. Unfortunately for those Bermudians who did vote for the PLP, and those who voted for the OBA, he forgot to mention those who keep them employed. After all this is the BIU Banquet. Who are they? They are IB and tourists. The people without a vote. No vote but pay the most in taxes to fund the Civil Service and keep Bermuda running. His comments are not comforting to anyone invested in Bermuda or thinking of investment. Taxes and no vote? Let the games begin.

    • Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

      Wait did you just say that tourists should vote?! Loooool omg *cracking up* y’all have lost your minds

      • Zevon says:

        He did not say that or even remotely suggest it.

      • Ringmaster says:

        Clearly comprehension was not one of your stronger subjects at school.

      • Wahoo says:

        I think your comprehension skills need a little more work if you got “tourists voting” out of what Ringmaster posted.

      • Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

        If you lot say so… the rabbit hole gets deeper and deeper with every day. Comments are crazy!

        • Zevon says:

          This is what the PLP do. Make things up that aren’t true and then convince people they actually happened.

    • You missed de message, this massage was mainly for BERMUDIAN workers and workers of labour who endure de mindset of modern day slavery by some employers who take advantage of some workers, and encourage workers to be proud in their field of work dispite de hardships that they are threatened with by exploitation and greed.
      Its hard for some in Bermuda to except that a political party in Bermuda to endorce labour and Unions knowing de History how they were formed, so we had a Government that catered to wealthy buisness men and foriegn Billionaires, now we have a Government that promises to cater to our PUBLIC schools, tranportation, elderly and Bermudian workers.
      Get over it already.
      The PEOPLE have spoken.

      • Ringmaster says:

        That’s all great news, at least I think it is as your spelling and grammar are atrocious. Did you go to school with Quinton? Can you at least point out how Bermuda workers will have jobs when IB and tourists have voted with their feet and left for friendlier countries? Today there is talk of Independence. That is the last word IB wants to hear, especially from a deeply indebted location. If the rating agencies drop Bermuda’s credit ratings, IB have to leave, there is no discussion. What new industries are lined up and ready to replace IB and tourism and invest in Bermuda to create thousands of jobs, pay taxes to support unemployment insurance, a livable wage, new buses and improved Education (for what jobs?) all the time reducing the cost of living?

        • lol ubpoba fu says:

          I would hate to be you and the oba ubp or oba/ubp whatever you going to call you lost souls now after getting bashed 24 to 12.

      • fu says:

        you know nothing about work, OJ…get over it, give it up…you’re nothing but a welfare case, waiting for handouts.

    • Can't believe it says:

      What have you said??????????? Ringmaster not a damn thing. The PLP won, lick your wounds and get over it.

  4. therock says:

    “Wait did you just say that tourists should vote?! ”

    no…and that’s your problem…lack of education, inability to comprehend written word.

    • JUNK YARD DOG says:

      There are a variety of ways of educating our children, not always the printed word will get through, as some have difficulty understanding text.

      eg If, I went on here for a hour here would any body read it nope !
      May be a new approach would work try show and tell similar to that which you see on the TV cooking shows and some of the less desirable shows that affect our young people.

      Give our children some thing they like not what the teacher forces down their throats. Some are doomed to fail if you raise the bar above the limit of the parent to assist their children.

      Teach our children the secrets of learning how to pass exams
      and make learning fun. Would competition work ? would team work work?

      • fu says:

        “eg If, I went on here for a hour here would any body read it nope !”

        Is this an example of your level of education?

      • wahoo says:

        So are you saying that Quinton and OJ are “special needs” kids?

  5. James H says:

    Bermuda is finally sinking into an abyss. People are leaving in droves. PLP voters will get the Bermuda they asked for. No expats, no bothersome foreigners, less tourists, less traffic. Less of everything. Congratulate yourselves, you deserve it.

  6. Game Changer2017 says:

    Unions should not in bed with any Government.

  7. Warlord says:

    Oh boy gonna get me one of those there mansions up Tuckers Town shortly.bahahaha

  8. Juicy Onion says:

    Everybody going to get a mansion in Tucker’s Town. Let’s take it back! It’s ours after all.

  9. Up D Hill says:

    Like I said on another post,,How long before this lot implode? NOT LONG, HOW LONG,,NOT LONG!!

    Comprehension is not in Jason Hayward`s hand book or QBB! Unreal, go back to secondary school for pete sake!!!

    Burts speech was the most childish crap I have ever heard! Bermuda I fear will be going back, way back. But not to worry, I won`t be paying for any of this nonsence, I`m already putting my prices up,, way up !!

  10. local says:

    That was the worst speech in Bermuda history, how can we look at our leader and be proud to be Bermudian!

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