Updating: BELCO Staff Gather Outside Building

October 4, 2018

[Updating] BELCO staff are currently gathering outside the building this morning [Oct 4], and BELCO has stated that “with Union action pending, BELCO cashiers and customer service representatives will be closed until further notice.”

BELCO Bermuda October 2018 (2)

Yesterday BELCO’s parent company Ascendant Group announced the “departure” of four senior executives — Denton Williams, Michael Daniel, Carol Ross-DeSilva & Zehena Davis — saying that ”two have resigned and two positions were made redundant.”

The four executives, combined, had been with the company for over 80 years and held the positions of Senior Vice President of Ascendant and BELCO COO, Ascendant SVP and Chief Strategic Development Officer, Ascendant VP Organisational Excellence and Vice President, Human Resources of Ascendant.

The company was also in the news last month, prompted by the circumstances surrounding the loss of three other jobs at Ascendant.

In a social media post just before 10am, BELCO said, “Notice: With Union action pending, BELCO cashiers and customer service representatives will be closed until further notice. We’ll update you as soon as regular service is resumed.”

Audio #1 of Donald Lottimore, President of the Electrical Supply Trade Union [ESTU]

President of the Electrical Supply Trade Union Donald Lottimore told Bernews, “Yesterday, we were made aware just before the press release at 5.30pm that we would be losing what we felt were key figures.

“Key Bermudian jobs were being vacated and we are, as a membership, disheartened by the fact that these long-serving employees – 29 years, two members 23, and most recently Ms. Davis, who was four years – but they were integral parts of our negotiating, as we are in the midst of our collective bargaining process and so now we have to abbreviate that.”

We also see other Union officials, with both Jason Hayward and Ed Ball on scene, understood to be present in their capacity with the Bermuda Trade Union Congress.

BELCO Bermuda October 2018 (1)

The situation is ongoing, we remain on scene, and we will update as able.

Update 10.47am: Update from ESTU President Donald Lottimore who said, “We have a meeting with the brothers and sisters of the Trade Union Congress here at 11.00am, so we’re going to sit and discuss the rights of the workers here at BELCO and Ascendant. And then we have a 2.30 meeting, where we’re looking to have all of the appropriate parties at the table.”

BELCO Bermuda October 2018

He added, “After the 11.00 meeting, we’ll come back to our members, we’ll make sure they’re fed and renew their spirits, and then at 2.30 we’ll meet again off-site and then come back and give them an update on where we stand.

Asked if he has heard from Government officials, he replied, “Not as yet; we’re getting overtures but we haven’t had anything secured as of yet.”

Audio #2 of Donald Lottimore, President of the Electrical Supply Trade Union [ESTU]

Update 10.53am: An Ascendant spokesperson told Bernews, “Ascendant Group executive met with the Electricity Supply Trade Union [ESTU] executive yesterday as part of ongoing discussions about the situation at BELCO and the challenges that the company is facing with respect to costs and reducing customers’ rates.”

Ascendant President and CEO, Sean Durfy said, “We have every intention to continue to work with the ESTU to navigate our way forward. My door is always open and I welcome further discussions.”

Update 11.37am: Workers are still gathered outside.

Update 12.04pm: Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown said, “I wish to express my grave concern over these developments, especially as I believe that most, if not all, of the staff departures yesterday were Bermudian.

“While it is the right of any private company to manage its resources and staff as it sees fit, it is disappointing that a company such as BELCO [under the Ascendant Group], who has had such a longstanding history of investing in Bermuda, have chosen to act in this way. Just as they have invested in Bermuda, Bermudians have invested in them, particularly as it relates to the staff members who work there.

“The issue of these developments does not just involve the Ministry of Home Affairs; it involves other Ministries as well. As a result, I will be meeting with my colleagues immediately to determine what can be done to ensure that there are adequate safeguards in place for the Bermudian staff at that company and that there is a level of stability there.”

Audio #3 of Donald Lottimore, President of the Electrical Supply Trade Union [ESTU]

Update 12.37pm: ESTU President Mr Lottimore said, “We just came from a meeting of our brothers and sisters of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress and we are working together to make sure that the rights of Bermuda’s workers are protected.

“We are going to meet with our membership, a closed-door meeting, at 1.00pm at the BIU so that we can discuss our path going forward, and consolidate a few thoughts and concerns to make sure that we address everything in a timely fashion and a united manner.

Asked if he has heard from management he said, “As of yet, I have not heard from the management of the organization, but I’m sure that will happen in its due time.”

Asked if services have been affected, he said, “We maintained the most essential part of our service at the plant to make sure that our brothers and sisters in the community have their lights, particularly those seniors who may be in medical need; we know we have a responsibility to them, even as we think about the other members of this organization.”

Update 1.05pm: We are outside BIU now, where the meeting is being held, workers have been arriving there, and we just saw BTUC President Jason Hayward walk in.

Update 1.12pm: According to an Ascendant spokesperson, Ascendant CEO Sean Durfy “reached out to ESTU President Donald Lottimore several times this morning, before 10.30am, by both phone and e-mail but as of 1pm there had been no response.”

Update 1.21pm: Rev Nicholas Tweed was seen entering the building earlier today, he walked out a few minutes ago.

Rev Nicholas Tweed Bermuda October 4 2018

Update 1.25pm: Unofficial information suggests the meeting is now underway.

Update 3.19pm: Looks like the meeting has concluded, as we saw people walking out. Union officials indicated an update is likely to be forthcoming later today.

Update 4.45pm: The BTUC confirm that the ESTU “will be instituting a work-to-rule and demand the immediate reinstatement of the four qualified, displaced Bermudians.” Full details here.

Update 5.06pm: Premier and Minister of Finance David Burt, the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs Walter Roban, and the Minister of Home Affairs Walton Brown “today met with the Executive of the Electricity Supply Trade Union in the wake of the departure of four senior Bermudian executives from BELCO,” the Government confirmed.

ESTU meeting Bermuda October 2018

Premier Burt said, “It was important to meet directly with the workers’ representatives who are justifiably concerned at a pattern of action by the CEO and the Board which is simply not in keeping with the community responsibility we expect from the company.

“The membership’s reaction to this growing and seemingly deliberate culture of uncertainty that has only affected Bermudians is not something this Government will ignore.

“The management and Board of Ascendant have a responsibility to their shareholders first; but my responsibility and the responsibility of the Government is to the people.

“As the Union and its members work through these issues, the Government is committed to supporting fair business practices that meet the highest standard of corporate community responsibility. Even a monopoly must act right,” the Premier added.

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Comments (45)

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  1. Ok says:

    Seems everybody’s trying to save some money but the government

  2. John Doe says:

    Stand firm Belco staff

    • hah says:

      Yeah, do that so we can continue to pay more for electricity… Or better yet, executive team should start picking people off now.

    • Bermudian says:

      I have a message for the CEO when you go back this is the song for your plane ride I create after you have wrecked our hard working bermudian family.

      • Yahoo says:

        You may be a candidate for Brown’s english competency test. Based on that gibberish, you will fail.

      • Yahoo says:

        You may be a candidate for Brown’s english competency test. Based on that rambling, incoherent sentence, you are unlikely to pass.

    • Karen says:

      On un-unionized staff retiring or being made redundant, just another reason for them not to work and earn their pay check. GO BACK TO WORK.

  3. Rediculous says:

    Laziness at its best. The BELCO union stands for all the wrong reasons.

    • outkasted says:

      Really? Ya lights on?

      • Hah says:

        How many BELCO staff do we need to pay to do a one man job? BELCO is a JOKE. If you look at any other power company in the world we have the highest number of paid employees in the world. This is a direct reason why our bill is high. Know ya facts before ya speak

        • Ask says:

          Well one of these folks was the Chief Operating Officer, tell me how that position is not required. Take notice he wasn’t made redundant because you can’t replace a position for 1 year when someone is made redundant, he resigned! Take a look at what positions were made redundant vs. resigned. Someone else can be now hired for the positions where people resigned.

    • Stand for Truth says:

      Rediculous Your mindset is laziness at its best.

  4. Mark says:

    Why don’t they march for lower electricity fees or when the plp give the people’s money to their cronies and subsidize the wealthy at our expense?

  5. pathetic says:

    never a dull moment with dee unions

  6. trump supporter says:

    Or march for paying out millions to the wrong people.

  7. wondering says:

    i agree with this this time as it is odd that these stalwarts either resigned or were made redundant. a war of HR vs Walton Brown for their own selfish reasons

  8. facts of the rock says:

    Welcome to Bermuda!

  9. sandgrownan says:

    So, struggling here, which or what worker’s rights are under threat or have not been protected.

    On the face of it, we have two resignations and two redundancies. It’s sad, but it happens.

  10. Where is genivive

  11. red rose says:

    Erm, hang on …. As a result, I will be meeting with my colleagues immediately to determine what can be done to ensure that there are adequate safeguards in place for the Bermudian staff at that company and that there is a level of stability there.”

    what you gonna do Walton? Nationalise it?

    • sandgrownan says:

      Shh…don’t give the clowns ideas!

    • PBanks says:

      If it wasn’t for the obvious lack of faith in Bermuda govt present or past to not screw it up, then it might very well be an option.

      • question says:

        They can’t run a few buses and trash trucks without making a total bollocks of it.

  12. BDA says:

    For those that are complaining and don’t know what they are really standing for – sit down and be quite. Bermudian’s have lost their jobs. If i remember correctly wasn’t there a march to help protect Bermudian’s and their jobs, what is the difference now? Do what you have to do Belco staff.

    • sandgrownan says:

      2 resigned. 2 were made redundant. Sad, but it happens.

    • Mark says:

      how does one be quite? what people are complaining about is the hypocrisy of marching for something like this but not for outright injustices done by people who they support publicly. i agree they should make noise when bermudians lose their jobs unnecessarily or wrongly…if…but they should have some moral consistency and call out other injustices like paying Brown and subsidizing the rich at our expense. if you don’t get this, sit down and be quite!

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *Home Affairs Minister Walton Brown said, “I wish to express my grave concern over these developments, especially as I believe that most, if not all, of the staff departures yesterday were Bermudian.” *

      Where was Walton when the company I worked for laid off 13 people in one go , all of whom were Bermudian ?
      Oh , I guess it didn’t matter as it was a non union shop .
      They all went ‘quitely’ on their way .

  13. Careful Minister Brown says:

    Your international reputation for a good steward of human rights is tarnished. Make sure you step gently and carefully so local respect doesn’t follow suit.

    Blessings abound.

  14. Ask says:

    How much has BELCO paid out in redundancy pay to all these folks including long time executives in payouts and redundancy pay? My guess is our rates won’t be coming down anytime soon.

    • sage says:

      Remember they were ordered to honor their pledge to pay pensions and health insurance for life for retired workers and their dependents?

  15. sandgrownan says:

    And there he is, Genevieve. The foreigner meddling in local politics.

    Somebody should call immigration.

  16. Mark says:

    Uh oh…tweedle dee is on the scene! where is tweedle dum?

  17. Justasuggestion says:

    Serious question…..

    Why would tweed be involved?

    Is he a share holder at Ascendent or just stirring up his usual

    • Mark says:

      they marched on parliament because they wanted power. now they have to make a show like this every once and a while to distract from the fact they are doing nothing for the people – no new jobs, no reduced cost of living but money to subsidize rich doctors…just like trump and the republicans, they used race and fear of immigrants to get into power and now they don’t know what to do with it! they don’t want to make things better, they just want to take for themselves. thanks trump/plp people.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      That quickie work permit/status thing probably had strings attached.

  18. ConcernedBermudian says:

    Wait wait wait. 2 made redundant and 2 resign. Correct me if I am wrong but are these positions union positions? Sounds to me like these are management level, therefore there is absolutely no reason to strike. Am I correct? GET BACK TO WORK.

  19. question says:

    Why do they care about people resigning? FFS.

  20. G A L says:

    Union does NOT run the business nor were the departures members so stay out of it. Further what the F is ReVTweed even around for get him out of there its a union / management debacle NOT A CHURCH issue.

  21. Bullwinkle T. Mooseknuckle says:

    He actually has a work permit to preach at a church in Hamilton.

    • G A L says:

      well go back to church and save some soles there but he even burnt some of those bridges

  22. Sister Nancy says:

    Toddle-of. I to was one from a certain establishment that let 13 locals go. Funny the same man on the BELCO board is the same big man at the establishment that recent let go. Get this a few of the 13 positions work was handed over to expats. SMDH Bermuda is definitely nor for Bermudians anymore. This little island will soon be run completely by foreigners who could careless about locals. Sad times ahead.

    • FTU says:

      half the reason may be a lot of you really think your better than the rest and your s___ don’t stink. maybe some of you should actually try to run a company of size without driving it to the ground.

    • LocaliCartel says:

      With linguistic ability as shocking as yours, I can’t say I’m surprised

  23. campervan says:

    Haven’t Fintech and bitcoin been created to expedite processes in this brave new A.I. world?
    Are we chasing after an industry that will destroy jobs internationally?
    Whats the PLP’s moral standpoint on this?