BPSU: “Exhaust All Possible Alternatives”

February 1, 2021 | 3 Comments

BPSU Armell Thomas Bermuda March 2020“Before making workers redundant, the BPSU implores employers to exhaust all possible alternatives,” Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] President Armell Thomas said today.

Mr Thomas said, “Unions face many challenges in our role as advocates for labour, however, one of the toughest is sitting down with workers who have been made redundant.

“The Bermuda Public Services Union [BPSU] recognises the devastating impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the economy as a whole and on individual businesses.

“With the implementation of Covid-related Government restrictions, the dramatic decline in demand for goods and services as a result of the near closure of our tourism industry and disruption in many supply chains, local businesses are struggling. Faced with these challenges, many businesses have or are considering making staff redundant as a means to cut costs.

“While cognisant of these challenges, the BPSU is concerned that some unscrupulous employers may be unfairly targeting unionised workers. Unions across the global are reporting incidents of unfair employment practices with employers using the pandemic as a means to get rid of employees who are protected by a collective bargaining agreement.

“Bermuda’s employers are reminded that the Employment Act 2000 clearly lays out the conditions under which redundancies can legally occur and include:

  • a] the modernisation, mechanisation or automation of all or part of the employer’s business
  • b] the discontinuance of all or part of the business
  • c] the sale or other disposal of the business
  • d] the re-organisation of the business
  • e] the reduction in business which has been necessitated by economic conditions, contraction in the volume of work or sales, reduced demand or surplus inventory
  • f] the impossibility or impracticality of carrying on the business at the usual rate or at all due to:
    • shortage of materials
    • mechanical breakdown
    • act of God, or
    • other circumstances beyond the control of the employer
  • g] when an employee has been laid off for over 4 months.

“The employer must be able to explain why certain employees were targeted for redundancy over others. With this in mind, the criteria used by employers to determine which employees will be made redundant must be transparent, fair and objective. It is important to note that an employer can be challenged in the Employment Tribunal or a Court of law if the redundancy appears to be unfair and unlawful.

“Before making workers redundant, the BPSU implores employers to exhaust all possible alternatives. Through Bermuda’s legislative requirement to consult with workers and their respective Trade Union prior to invoking redundancies, alternatives to job losses are often found and include:

  • the utilization of government assistance for businesses affected by the pandemic
  • the reduction of non-employee related costs
  • the temporary reduction/elimination of the overtime rate
  • the temporary reduction/cut in bonuses
  • the temporary reduction in the number of days/hours that staff work
  • temporary layoffs
  • replacing full-time posts with part-time positions
  • reviewing whether a vacancy can be filled by redeploying an existing member of staff, with appropriate retraining where necessary.

“Employers are also reminded that there are high costs associated with making people redundant which extend beyond the cost of redundancy payments. Those businesses that cut staff may not be equipped to maximize opportunities when the economy does turn around.

“The protection of jobs during this crisis must be the priority for all; employers, employees, Unions and Government must work collectively with this as one of our primary goals.“

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Comments (3)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “The employer must be able to explain why certain employees were targeted for redundancy over others.”

    Targeted? I think you’ve already made up your mind about employers.

    • Nope says:

      Actually as a business owner I don’t have to explain anything especially when it comes to the lazy unprofessional local staff that take sick days because they think they are part of their compensation! Fired or redundant no mater the form is my decision alone but thanks for trying to suggest otherwise and I will take it under consideration (not)! What a joke!

  2. Ber says:

    Mr Thomas should hope the IMF does not show up on our island any time soon.
    Their first recommendation will be to slash Government costs and wages.
    He should be concerned with the BPSA as they cannot be employed in the numbers they are now in this economy.
    Its unsustainable.

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