Video: Minister Hayward Press Conference

June 3, 2021

[Updated] Minister of Labour Jason Hayward is holding a press conference this afternoon [June 3] to speak on “the Bermuda Government’s position on proposed amendments to the Trade Union and Labour Relations [Consolidation] Act 2021.”

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 17-minute replay is below

Update 3.50pm: Minister Hayward’s remarks:

Good day to members of the media and the listening public, and thank you for your attendance and for tuning in to this press conference, despite the short notice.

I want to take this opportunity to respond to the President of the Bermuda Industrials Unions statements in the recent press conference regarding the decertification procedure pursuant to the Trade Union and Labour Relations [Consolidation] Act 2021 [“the Act”] and to state the Government of Bermuda’s position.

To be clear, the Government has no intention of amending Section 57 of the Act pertaining to who gets to vote in a decertification ballot.

As a general rule, the principle of what is reasonable and fair is the foundation upon which the Government of Bermuda weights all decisions before taking action in any matter. In this instance, the Government seeks to balance the interest of all workers in the bargaining unit with the interest of Union members. The Government will not be forced to accept a position that removes rights from workers within a bargaining unit.

The Bermuda Industrial Union’s position as expressed to the Ministry of Labour is that:

  • i. Only current union members should have the ability to trigger a decertification ballot and form part of the 35% needed to make a decertification application;
  • ii. Only current union members should have the ability to participate in the decertification ballot irrespective of the existence of an agency shop; and
  • iii. The Act should be amended to increase the threshold for decertification from more than 50% to 60% and increase the threshold for automatic decertification from 60% to 65%.

The Government’s position on these matters is as follows:

  • i. The decertification ballot is a workplace ballot administered by the Government in the interest of workers and is not a union ballot. As such, the Government must consider the rights of the workers within the bargaining unit above and beyond the interests of the union[s].
  • ii. Any worker who falls under an Agency Shop has the right to participate in a decertification ballot, whether they are a member of a trade union or not, as they have equal contributions regularly deducted from their wages.
  • iii. Workers who do not fall under an Agency Shop and are not members of a trade union will not be considered a part of the appropriate bargaining unit eligible to vote in a decertification ballot.
  • iv. Although all members of the bargaining unit, whether they are union members or agency shop, shall participate in a decertification ballot, it is only persons who are members of the union or former members of the union who can trigger a decertification ballot.
  • v. The Government does not support the proposed legislative shifting of the percentages from a simple majority to 60% for a decertification ballot or the shift from 60% to 65% for automatic decertification. This is not equitable or consistent with the percentages required for the certification and automatic certification processes, which is a simple majority and 60%, respectively.

After reviewing trade union legislation in other jurisdictions, it is typical for all persons within a bargaining unit to participate in the decertification ballot irrespective of trade union membership.

The changes to the Act that came into effect on 1 June 2021 will permit all persons within a bargaining unit to vote in a decertification ballot, as a successful certification will trigger an automatic Agency Shop. I must also clarify that the changes to the Act in this regard will not negatively affect the current position of unions or their current composition of bargaining units as the practice under the Trade Union Act 1965 was for agency shop members to already participate in the decertification ballot.

It should be noted that the Government has been advised by the Attorney General’s Chambers, through the production of this Act, that all workers within a bargaining unit, irrespective of union membership, must have the ability to participate in a decertification ballot or be counted towards the number for automatic decertification where there is an Agency Shop in place.

The amendments to the Employment Act 2000 and the consolidation of the Trade Union, Labour Relations, and Labour Disputes Acts that form this Act has been a collaborative effort of the unions, employer groups and the Government. Throughout this process, the Ministry has listened keenly to the Unions and employer groups. As such, this Government can confidently say that consolidation of the labour legislation that has formed this Act is the most pro-Union legislation passed of any administration in Bermuda.

Thank you

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  1. Ringmaster says:

    Grab the popcorn. The PLP has taken on the BIU who have said this could be the end of the BIU. The end result will be an historical event either way.