Commissiong Pays Tribute To Ottiwell Simmons

June 20, 2023 | 0 Comments

The late Ottiwell Simmons helped to change Bermuda, former MP Rolfe Commissiong said, adding that he “stood firm with quiet assurance and steadfast leadership.”

Mr Commissiong said, “They say that the good that men do is basically interred with them when they pass. That certainly will not be the fate awaiting Ottiwell Simmons. He is certainly one man who sits upon that pantheon of those who radically changed Bermuda from a society tightly controlled by a small, entitled and privileged Anglo white oligarchy of his youth, to a Bermuda that was literally yanked into the 20th Century as the thrust for racial justice and democracy took root throughout the region.

“Through the 1966 BELCO uprising in an effort to unionize the utility that ultimately failed but which in reality amounted to, an empty victory for the white dominated business establishment; to the then island wide general strike in 1981 in an effort to ensure that Bermudian workers who were the backbone of the profitable industry would get an equitable share in the form of decent wages and benefits for themselves and their families.

“From 1972 to 1996 as President he achieved more benefits for workers then anyone else in the history of the labour movement in Bermuda. Health insurance in the form of major medical and vacation pay, sick pay, bereavement leave as well, to name but a few.

“Dr. E.F, Gordon, the key pioneer of the labour movement in Bermuda, laid the foundation; but it was his worthy successor Ottiwell Simmons who finished building the house we call the Bermuda Industrial Union.

“Through it all, he stood firm with quiet assurance and steadfast leadership. Black labour trusted Ottie and knew he would never sell them out. They knew that he was a man of integrity. But his successes backed in social solidarity by his members ensured that all workers would benefit, local , foreign, black and white.

“If you want to look to someone who led Bermuda into the modern world, certainly Ottie is one of them as was his devoted friend and fellow Progressive Labour Party member and MP, Arthur Hodgson who predeceasd him only by months .

“At a time when the gains of Labour are under threat let us ensure that the work of Ottie and those hundreds and thousands of the now nameless freedom fighters who fought for us during that tumultuous period are never forgotten.

“The Marsh Folly, Government Gate,  and St. Monica’s Road family salute our beloved son Ottie Simmons and may he rest in peace.”

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