OBA’s Smith: Labour Bill Delayed In Senate

December 22, 2020

“The delay of proceedings in the Senate was bizarre,” OBA Senate Leader Ben Smith said, adding that the “PLP’s Bill seeks to divert much needed funds away from charities and instead give it to unions.”

Senator Smith said, “Proceedings in the Senate ground to a halt when the PLP Senate team decided to delay debate until the New Year, rather than deal with OBA amendments to a controversial PLP Labour Bill.

”The PLP’s Bill seeks to divert much needed funds away from charities and instead give it to unions. The delay of proceedings in the Senate was bizarre. Only last Wednesday, we agreed to have a long session today to deal with all the remaining 11 Bills for the year.

”The PLP pulled stumps and chose to adjourn the Senate to next year rather than allow a vote on the OBA amendments to the PLP Labour Bill.”

Senator Smith explained, “Non-union employees are currently allowed to pay the annual contribution to charity. The PLP proposal will require non-union employees to now pay 50% of that money to the unions instead.

”This new law will deprive charities of much needed funds at a time when charities are already under extreme pressure.”

Senator Smith continued, “After preparing for a long session in the Senate, with 11 Bills for debate, it was bizarre that PLP Senate Leader, Minister Peets, chose to adjourn all Government business until January 13th rather than have a vote on our amendments.

“The Opposition was not given any notice of this decision to delay. We had agreed only last Wednesday to meet on Monday so that all Senators could be prepared for lengthy debate, which we were.

”We knew some of these 11 Bills were controversial after the debate in the House and the following expressions of concern by the public.

”We don’t know if the Government’s sudden decision to adjourn the debate until next year was to avoid debating the OBA amendments to the Labour Bill, but if Government was ready for this debate last Wednesday what happened?

”In addition to the PLP’s proposal to redirect monies from charities to the unions, another OBA amendment to the Labour Bill sought to ensure Bermuda’s docks are protected as an ‘essential service’.

Senator Smith said, “Most people in Bermuda see the docks as an essential service already and that protection should be made clear in the law.

”With an Island with very little natural resources, all Bermudians rely on the import of goods by ship or air. A continuing supply chain is essential and must be protected for everyone’s benefit. The OBA amendment would make this happen.

Senator Smith concluded, “Days before Christmas the PLP sought to pass a law to take 50% of contribution money away from charities and send it to the unions instead.

”In a time when charities are helping to feed our people, helping to protect the vulnerable, and helping bring even a little Christmas to those who need it most, the Government Bill would reduce charitable resources.

”That is why the OBA was proposing an amendment.

”Let’s hope that we can persuade all Senators to stop this bad law by approving the OBA amendments. Our charities have been working overtime in 2020. To divert money from the charities to the unions is plain wrong.

”Maybe it was the Christmas spirit that caused Minister Peets to move the business to January, but I do hope that spirit continues in the New Year and all Senators decide to support the OBA amendments.”

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