Review: ‘Victory’ Documentary On 1981 Strike

June 26, 2023

[Written by Dale Butler]

Bermuda mourns the passing of labour icon Ottiwell Simmons who served the Bermuda Industrial Union as its president and was a Member of Parliament. The release on May 5th of “Victory” by producer extraordinaire and broadcast journalist, Rick Richardson, along with Jroc Communications was timely because it covered a crucial and controversial part of Mr. Simmons presidency – the 1981 General Strike.

Victory Documentary June 26 2023

To his great credit, Mr. Richardson took great care to preserve original footage of the event and to also interview Mr. Simmons himself and colleagues who have since passed. With Ottiwell Simmons in “the war room” fighting for a salary increase and Sir John Swan “in the thick of things” as a Government Minister, their task was complicated when the Government leader of the day Sir David Gibbons asked the country who did they want, Ottiwell Simmons or David Gibbons.

The country chose Otti and before we knew it, other unions joined in the protracted strike, and a General Strike became a tidal wave that only Moses – Otti and Sir John finally resolved after there was an airport blockage, major hotels closing, described then by Executive Vice-President Lyndon Clay as “an utter disaster”. With 6,000 postal workers, bus drivers, garbage and sanitation workers, marine and port employees, longshoremen, teachers, ferry and others on strike, Bermuda would never experience such again.

“Victory” has captured the “strike of all strikes” in Bermuda’s history with many who were active then, sharing their memories. With recordings from the Bermuda Workers’ Association, Dr. E.F. Gordon and E.T. Richard, Arnold West, Glen Fubler and Arthur Hodgson, to name but a few, the film is an excellent history lesson with some surprises – things we did not know that happened between Ward Young, who was leading the hospital negotiations, and Members of Parliament, Dr. John Stubbs and Harry Viera. And this is just a start.

Thanks to Mr. Richardson and Jroc Communications you will have a golden opportunity to purchase a ticket [$25] from the BIU to see the film at BUEI on Friday, June 30th at 7p.m. In light of the fact that the film is timely and features Mr. Simmons, and was very well received at its Premiere, I would strongly suggest you get your tickets as soon as possible. Yes, Mr. Richardson is considering additional venues and you will be kept abreast.

- Dale Butler was President of the Bermuda Union of Teachers when it decided to join the 1981 General Strike and is featured in the documentary. He is also the producer of the Remastered voice of Dr. E.F. Gordon [1944], which was done at great expense when he discovered it in the vinyl collection of the late Hilton G. Hill II.

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