BIU Urge Govt & BHA To ‘Rethink Their Decision’

June 18, 2021 | 23 Comments

[Updated] “We encourage the Government and BHA to rethink their decision to mandate supervised quarantine and testing that treats unvaccinated people differently,” BIU President Chris Furbert said, adding that “we cannot violate a basic human right – freedom of choice.”

Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert said, “While we understand the concern to protect our island and prevent the spread of Covid-19 and potential new variants, we must strike a balance. We cannot violate a basic human right – freedom of choice.

The Bermuda Hotel Association [BHA] announced a mandatory testing policy that ‘all non-immunized hotel employees are to be tested every 7 days.’ We do not agree with this policy because it causes division amongst our members and employees. No employee or person should receive different treatment based on his or her vaccination status.

“We agree that testing be mandated to protect staff, guests and the wider public but all employees, regardless of vaccination status should be included in this testing regime.

“We do not expect that our members will be required to disclose their vaccination status – it is confidential information and a personal choice. By including all employees in this testing regime, you remove the separate classes of employees and potential for employees to feel discriminated against.

“While a person’s vaccination status is not a protected characteristic in law, employees or persons may decide to remain unvaccinated for reasons that are legally protected, and we need to respect the decisions of everyone.

“The direction comes from the top – the Government has set a dangerous precedence of different treatment based on vaccination status. We see it most recently with their decision to implement mandatory supervised quarantine for unvaccinated travelers, specifically returning residents and workers. If science has told us that the vaccinated person can still catch covid-19 and transmit the virus, why are we treating them differently from the unvaccinated person?

“While the transmission risks may be low, the potential is still there, and we need to stay aware of that. We cannot penalize those that decide to make a different choice.

“This mandatory supervised quarantine will cause issues in the workplace; employees are not sure whether they should travel and if they do and are unvaccinated, will they be able to work from the quarantine facility; will they need to take an additional two weeks off?

“If the employee can quarantine at home, particularly those that have already been set up with remote working abilities, they could still sign in for work. It benefits the employee and employer.

“We have watched as many companies have created vaccination incentive programs and we do not agree with these initiatives as it is borderline bribery and puts employees and the wider public under pressure to make a decision that should remain a personal choice.

“We do not support these bullying tactics. Employers, particularly the Government need to balance the risk of discrimination allegations against the benefits associated with decreasing restrictions for vaccinated employees/persons.

“We encourage the Government and BHA to rethink their decision to mandate supervised quarantine and testing that treats unvaccinated people differently. The division that has blanketed the island is unnecessary, and harmony needs to be restored.”

Update 5.50pm: A BHA spokesperson said, “The Bermuda Hotel Association [BHA] have noted the details of the earlier press release today by our social partner, the Bermuda Industrial Union [BIU].

“We wish to confirm that the Bermuda Hotel Association had an agreement in principle with them, and it is unfortunate that the BIU would appear to have now changed their position.

“We will be requiring all hotel employees to participate in the SafeKey verification program effective Tuesday 22nd. June 2021.

“We will be working with the BIU in the coming days to advance our collective goal of achieving a safe workplace for our tourism professionals and a safe visitor experience for our guests.”

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You can find more information on the links below and also on our dedicated website BermudaCovid.com, which is the most comprehensive resource and historic record available of Bermuda’s handling of the pandemic.

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Comments (23)

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  1. John E. Thorne says:

    Chris Furbert is a hypocrite because he wants to treat unionised and non unionised workers in a bargaining unit differently by denying one group of workers the right to vote and treating those that pay 50% dues compared with 100% differently. Just like it is a person’s right to choose to get vaccinated or not it is a worker’s right to choose whether to be unionised or not.
    You cannot have different rules for the Union and argue the opposite for everyone else unless you are a union dictator who only cares about himself and his salary!

    • Allan says:

      I have not read ahead the comments and positions but agree with this 1st one. Hypocrisy is the issue. In tune with that is a desparate cling to just make noise, for survival. Pathetic, if there was a real concern for workers rights instead of a paycheck and power agenda there would be better ideas put forward.

  2. sandgrownan says:

    Easy fix Chris. Get vaccinated.

  3. Verdad says:

    For the first time, I agree with one of your positions.

  4. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We cannot violate a basic human right – freedom of choice.”

    Nobody is denying anyone any freedom of choice.

    Whether or not to get vaccinated is a choice.

    Whether or not to travel is a choice.

    “We do not support these bullying tactics”

    That is rich coming from the BIU!

    • K says:

      I’m sorry but for some people it is not a choice. People travel to visit loved ones and for work, they cannot afford to pay $4000+ just to come back HOME every damn time. So therefore, although the government says it’s a choice, to many it is not. I do not care how you put it.

      • Question says:

        If they’re flying all over the place to ‘see loved ones’, that’s discretionary spending. They can afford quarantine.
        It’s to protect the rest of us. They’re the ones travelling and taking risk. They should either vaccinate or quarantine. Simple.

      • Joe Bloggs says:

        For some people vaccination is not an option for medical reasons. I get that.

        But unless you are leaving Bermuda by air ambulance, travel is a choice.

        I understand that people travel to see loved ones. But that is a choice (if you have the option to to travel to the country in question).

  5. Paula says:

    Safekey for all employees.

    That way the employer doesn’t know who is or isn’t vaccinated.

  6. question says:

    Nobody is “violating freedom of choice”.

    Chris Furbert’s problem is the same one he always has. His problem is that personal choices have consequences.

  7. Bongy99 says:

    I commend Chris with these comments and the BIU’s stance on vaccinated/unvaccinated equality within Bermuda. This is a touchy subject currently but as he stated, it is a right for an individual to make a medical choice without bias or external influence. The chance of transmission/contraction is still present regardless of vaccination status. This needs to be kept in mind when making decisions that affect Bermuda (residents, citizens and visitors).

    • kevin says:

      No one is mandating they get vaccinated the choice you made simply makes you get a test that ensures we are all safe at work guests and co workers . Furby wants all to be included in this breathe but doesnt want all when it comes to a vote for decertification….GO FIGURE…

    • Vigilante says:

      I’m afraid you are misinformed Mr Bongy. This is only a touchy subject for those whose fears overwhelm their common sense. Vaccination greatly reduces the likelihood of catching COVID (and therefore possibly dying) AND reduces the likelihood of the transmission. “The researchers found that fully immunized participants were 25 times less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than were those who were unvaccinated. Findings like this imply that if vaccinated people are so well protected from getting infected at all, they are also unlikely to spread the virus.” Google the facts, stay away from the fiction, and you will be alright, my friend…

  8. Southampton says:

    BIU should stick their head where the sun does not shine.

  9. Triangle Drifter says:

    What does the BIU have to do with immigration or medical matters?

    Just asking.

    Who runs Government?

  10. Bermuda gold says:

    Thank you Chris Furbert. We need more leaders to speak up to help stop this scare tactics and divisiveness.

    • Ringmaster says:

      Leaders? No love of the PLP but let’s have the BIU call a General Strike then we can see the leaders. The BIU are too chicken, because if they did the members and public will see how the BIU have no money to support the workers and will then have to explain where it all went.

  11. Eyes says:

    Thanks to the Union on this important Stance. The Government is Totally Wrong for shoving it’s Citizens like this. All they can say is “We are not Backing Down.” I WILL remember that.
    They are trying to FORCE people into Vaccinations.
    Gov’t also threw the First punch when it came to the Labour Dispute this week. This is why the businesses in St. George’s suffered losses this week. BLAME your Slap-Happy Government for this.This Steel-headed Gov’t continues to put its foot in its mouth. The Union never would have initiated action if the government didn’t pass a controversial law June 1st. I Am highly displeased and appalled with this secretive Gov’t. Transparency? Far from it! They come out on heir own terms and many questions go unanswered. Their decisions cause more questions than answers. ENOUGH!
    Many people including my family and I am sure many others, received no assistance from this government the last year and a half. All they have done by me is TAKE and TAKE some more. Other countries continue to financially assist ALL their citizens ( and small businesses). THIS government………XXXXX!

    • 365 says:

      Ya right, its the governments fault and everyone else fault that the BIU workers intentionally are “working to rule” which is code for working even slower than we should.

      The BIU members are the weak ones here and are united themselves. I am no longer a member and admittingly have not been since the days of Bro Ottie but I do know that there are several members that question how the Union itself is run, why the finances are in such disarray (11 years behind in audited statements at one point) and whether or not it is intentionally done to cover something? But while they moan, they are to scared to say something out load? Which makes one wonder, what is really going on, and what are they afraid of?

  12. Ringmaster says:

    We cannot violate a basic human right – freedom of choice.

    Bro Furbert is suddenly learning new words. Pity the BIU ha no intention of allowing freedom of choice to its members or even the public when they withdraw labor on a work to rule. For example, my choice is to have my garbage collected on the specified day. Today it is still waiting collection.

  13. Mark says:

    Numpty

  14. Allan says:

    I wonder what the real problem is? If half the Country or even 25 % decide that they think doing something really stupid like say speed, or LSD, is that their freedom of choice? Well, sorry, but no it is not! Just as if they all wanted to commit suicide, it would be the Country’s leaders to do what is necessary to prevent that. So get real, and for God’s sake simply grow up at sometime! I for one am embarrased that the Unions do not do the job they are supposed to!

  15. sandgrownan says:

    Just read an article in The Guardian that says Morgan Stanley in New York will deny entry into the office for unvaccinated employees.

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