Ottiwell Simmons Name Added To BIU Building

September 2, 2019

“We owe you a great debt of gratitude,” BIU President Chris Furbert told Ottiwell Simmons today as he announced that his name has been added to the BIU Headquarters building.

The new signage was unveiled at today’s Labour Day celebrations, with the crowd applauding as they learned that the name of the long-time former president had been added to the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters.

The pioneering Bermudian trade unionist — who was present at today’s Labour Day celebrations — is widely regarded as having been instrumental in the island’s modern labour movement.

As president of the BIU between 1974 and 1996, he spearheaded the years’-long drive to see the island’s largest labour union housed in its own purpose-built headquarters, and the new BIU building was officially opened in 1987.

Labour Day Bermuda Sept 2 2019 (2)

In announcing the new name, BIU President Chris Furbert said Mr. Simmons had previously declined to have his portrait included on a mural featuring prominent labour leaders Dr. E.F. Gordon and Dr. Barbara Ball which was painted on the exterior of the building a number of years ago.

“But the executive board and general council decided we needed to do something to honour Ottiwell Simmons,” he said.

Pointing to the new signage above the main entrance, he continued: “So what you’ll see in front of you now if you look up is ‘Bermuda Industrial Union Headquarters — Ottiwell A. Simmons Building’.”

Mr. Furbert then joked: “And we weren’t going to get his permission for that. We just did it. And I don’t want to see him go and get a ladder and try and take it down.”

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Comments (6)

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  1. Well deserved brother Otti …

  2. Things a Gwan says:

    Ottiwell needs to make a comeback and take over the BIU again. Today’s BIU is a disgrace. The assets and businesses that he built up have deteriorated. The unions financial statements have been as much years behind at one point. How the membership continues to support this group running the union is a mystery to me. Then again Trump has die heart supporters so I guess anything is possible.

  3. Well deserved and it’s a good thing to honor Mr. Simmons for the hard work he has done over the years, and doing it now at a time that it can be most appreciated, while Mr. Simmons is still alive and among.

    Well Done B.I.U.

  4. Lynne Winfield says:

    So happy to see this recognition of Mr. Ottiwell Simmons. It’s only in the last 20 years that I have begun to understand his enormous contributions to Bermuda, and his continued fight to see justice and equality become a reality for the workers of Bermuda. It took me a long time to understand that the only recourse historically Blacks had against racism was through their unions fighting for their rights. However, we all benefitted from what the unions were able to bring about, i.e. maternity leave, vacation, social insurance, 35 hour work week,and so very much more. So many thing we accept as the norm today. For the white community our memories are short, we accepted the benefits without having been in the fight.

  5. wa says:

    ” For the white community our memories are short,”

    Lynne, You need to speak for yourself and only yourself.
    you don’t speak for me, you don’t represent me.
    You do nothing but divide.
    Where were you and you condescending comments regarding the Pride parade?
    You had nothing to say, no support whatsoever for a group of people fighting for their rights….revealing what a bigot you really are.

  6. James says:

    Ever since I was a little boy living on Court Street – I used to see Mr. Simmons and the things he did.
    I saw him untangle and free a Black man from police brutality on Elliott street. I was about 7 years old.
    I have seen him March leading thousands of Bermudian workers to better workers’ rights.
    He could not have a mortgage at a local bank – it would have been called-in with all the upheaval that he caused (say the establishment.)
    He was not liked by the establishment – but he stayed the course.

    I am now almost retirement age and Ottiwell Simmons is “MY HERO”".