Premier David Burt’s Labour Day Remarks

September 4, 2023 | 2 Comments

[Labour Day Remarks from Premier David Burt]

Good Morning, Brothers and Sisters of the Bermuda Industrial Union, Bermuda Public Services Union, Bermuda Union of Teachers, Fire Services Association, Electricity Supply Trade Union, Bermuda Entertainment Union, Prison Officers Union, Bermuda Police Association and good morning to the workers and people of Bermuda.

I am honoured to be here today in Union Square as we celebrate the lasting impact and invaluable contributions of Bermuda’s labour movement and commemorate the sacrifices and courage of labour leaders of days past and those who stood on the frontlines and fought for the rights that workers enjoy today and fought for a fairer Bermuda.

Martin Luther King once said:

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

In Bermuda, those dedicated individuals are women and men of the labour movement who did not sit by and simply accept the status quo. They organised at the U.S Naval Dockyard in the 1940s, at BELCO in the 1960s, and across the island in the general strike of 1981.

Each time, they put their comforts and even safety aside to demand more from those in power. More protection for workers, better working conditions, and fairer pay. They united in solidarity and laid the foundation for the continual fight for a better and fairer Bermuda, not just for black Bermudians, white Bermudians, or Portuguese Bermudians, but ALL Bermudians. And they “Built This Island” as we know and love today. They even fought for recognition of the lasting impact of the labour movement and, in doing so, helped to establish this very day, Labour Day, as a holiday in 1982.

One of the visionary leaders who united the workers of this island and the father of Bermuda’s modern labour movement was the late great Brother Ottiwell Simmons. His dedication to equality, social justice, and worker’s rights was unshakeable, no matter the personal toll. We honour his memory and thank him for his incredible sacrifices and the immense contributions he made to Bermuda both through his time as President of the Bermuda Industrial Union and as a Progressive Labour Party MP.

But as we thank him, we must ensure that his good works continue. That is why I am proud to lead a labour Government that has stood alongside our Trade Unions throughout the decades, working together to build a more equitable society.

Since 2017, with the support of our trade union partners, we have continually reaffirmed our commitment to the workers of Bermuda.

We’ve modernised labour legislation to assist trade unions in representing and safeguarding Bermuda’s workers. We strengthened protections for workers against sexual harassment and bullying, enhanced maternity leave and proudly introduced paid paternity leave.

We implemented the largest moratorium on work permits in Bermuda’s history to protect jobs and provide more opportunities for our people. And, we reduced payroll taxes for 86% of workers and we delivered on our promise to implement a minimum wage for the first time in history.

Yes, indeed. The labour government is delivering on the promises we made. We know there is more work to be done to continue advancing workers’ rights. We will continue to stand in solidarity with our trade unions as your Progressive Labour Party Government implements reforms that make Bermuda a fairer society for all Bermudians.

I thank all of our trade unions, the membership and the leadership of the – for the sacrifices you make, the role you have played and continue to play in Building This Island, and advocating for the island’s workers.

Today, we celebrate the hard-fought achievements and selfless sacrifices so many have made for us. Congratulations to all those who made today possible, special congratulations to Stefan Dill who lead the organization efforts for today. And today, we renew our commitment to solidarity, progress and building a more equitable Bermuda.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Steve says:

    More B/S from Burt

  2. Vortex says:

    Twelve months ago Jason Hayward said Bermuda needs 25% more workers to survive, now Burt is celebrating the greatest moratorium on work permits in Bermuda’s history.

    Well which is it? because the one thing I do know is if they can’t work, they won’t come.

    It’s little wonder that educated voters see through this lot.

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