Labour Day Message From The BPSU President

September 5, 2023 | 1 Comment

[Labour Day message from BPSU President Armell Thomas]

Happy Labour Day!

Today, as we gather to celebrate Labour Day, we pause to reflect upon the countless contributions that have shaped Bermuda into the remarkable Island we know today. It is a day to honour the spirit of hard work, dedication, and unity that binds us together as a community.

This year’s Labour Day theme “We Built This Island” resonates deeply with the essence of Bermuda’s labour movement – a movement that has brought workers, unions, government, and employers together to create a better future. The collaboration between the public and private sectors, unions, government, and employers has been instrumental in propelling our Island’s growth.

As the proud President of the Bermuda Public Services Union, it would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to publicly thank our members for their contribution to building Bermuda. With a membership of over 3,000 strong, our Union’s strengthen spans both the public and private sectors and has representation in a multitude of industries across Bermuda.

For over seventy years, the BPSU membership has been at the forefront of building and nurturing the very foundations upon which our Island stands. Our members in the public service have dedicated themselves to ensuring that our society functions smoothly, efficiently, and compassionately. We also recognise the invaluable contributions that our members in the private sector have made to progressing and ensuring the resilience of our shared home. We are extremely proud and grateful to our members for their unwavering professionalism and commitment to their clients, colleagues, employers, and their country.

Without a doubt, our members can join with workers across the Island and proudly own the mantra “We Built This Island”.

Today, we also come together to express our deepest gratitude for the past leaders of Bermuda’s trade union movement who have paved the way for the remarkable spirit of unity and collaboration we embody today. Throughout history, Bermuda’s labour unions have championed the cause of fair wages, safe working conditions, and the rights of workers.

Let us not forget that we currently stand on the shoulders of giants – those past leaders who, against all odds, forged the path toward a more equitable and just society. Their courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the rights of workers have shaped our labour movement into what it is today. Their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, and it is their sacrifices and determination that continue to inspire and propel us as we look toward the future.

The way we can truly honour their memory is to continue to build upon the foundations they laid.

As we celebrate the legacy of our predecessors, however, we must also acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead. Today, we stand at a crucial juncture, where the need for progress in workers’ protection is of paramount importance.
Ensuring workers’ rights means not only fair wages and safe workplaces but also affordable healthcare that guarantees the wellbeing of our workforce. Equal access to affordable healthcare must be a number one priority for this Government. It is long overdue with many workers’ families now at a crisis point.

The long-promised implementation of unemployment insurance must also be given priority status by the Government and employers. Unemployment insurance provides a safety net during times of economic uncertainty, offering peace of mind to workers and their families as well as to the wider economy. Ensuring this type of protection is what progressive Governments and employers do for their employees.

Our Island’s progress must be accompanied by protection against the tide of inflation that threatens workers’ livelihoods. A sustainable cost of living ensures that hardworking individuals and families can afford the necessities that allow them to thrive. Bermuda’s workers deserve a sustainable cost of living. Together, we must protect Bermuda’ workers against the ravages caused by runaway inflation. .

As a result of strong Union leadership, all workers in Bermuda now have the legal right to work environments that are free from bullying and sexual harassment. Unfortunately, not all employers have lived up to their legal obligations as outlined in the Employment Act. I can categorically state that the BPSU has zero tolerance for bullying and harassment in the workplace and this Union will be doubling its efforts to ensure compliance.

The pandemic has taught us the importance of a work environment that supports and protects good mental health. More effort must be made to improve collective bargaining agreements and legislation in this area.

These challenges can only be effectively tackled when labour, government, and employers join forces in pursuit of a common goal. Together we must continue to build bridges of cooperation to address these pressing issues.

As we reflect on our journey this Labour Day, let us remember that the spirit of collaboration is our greatest asset. The legacy of our labour movement and the sacrifices of those who came before us inspire us to strive for a future where every worker’s voice is heard, where protection is guaranteed, and where opportunities for progress are accessible to all.

Let us continue to work hand in hand, united in our commitment to building an island that empowers its workforce, safeguards their wellbeing, and paves the way for a brighter tomorrow.

Let us stand strong, united in our commitment to a better tomorrow.

Let us continue to build bridges, tear down walls, and foster a future where the spirit of collaboration drives us forward.

In closing, I wish a Happy Labour Day to each and every one of you, and extend my sincerest thanks to all who have contributed to building this Island that we collectively and proudly call home.

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Unemployment insurance provides a safety net during times of economic uncertainty”

    That would be most of the last 15 or so years.

    “Together, we must protect Bermuda’ workers against the ravages caused by runaway inflation.”

    And how do you propose to reduce the rate of inflation in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada? Those are the places from which 90% of our imports come.

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