*File photo
*File photo

The spirit was cooperation and collaboration but the union member was not having it. He considered the possibility of privatization or outsourcing of union jobs by this government and gave a frank assessment.

“It’s all about money over people nowadays,” he said. “They’ll do it , too. You watch.”

He was sat in the Liberty Theatre, just before the beginning of the Fourth Quadrennial Bermuda Industrial Union Delegates Conference. 

His mood cut a sharp contrast to the remarks of various speakers, who stressed the need for collaboration between union workers, management and government.

Rev. Nicholas Tweed, pastor of St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church, told the crowd all labour has dignity.

“I will say attacks on unions are not confined to Bermuda,” said Rev. Nicholas Tweed, pastor of St. Paul’s A.M.E. Church. 

“As the global economy shifts and many countries pursue increased privatization in the name of creating cost efficiencies, which seems to be the new code word for cutting labour, it is essential that unions remain solidified and galvanized around a set of core values that are grounded in the basic and fundamental principle that everyone deserves a decent wage for a full day’s work.”

He added, “We recognize that a historic paradigm, which pits management against labour, produces no winners. 

“It becomes essential for us to try and create creative alternatives.”

Sir Leroy Trotman, General Secretary for the Barbados Workers’ Union and the event’s keynote speaker, alluded to an
ongoing class warfare, a battle in which, he suggested “the workers are not winning”.

Sir Leroy made a strong push for tripartite cooperation, where business, labour and government entities cooperate. 

“Even in these turbulent times, you ought to be able to benefit from the institute of tripartite social partnership,” he said.

In Barbados, he said, it strengthened, not weakened, the union.

“Tripartism is the most sound and effective strategy through which a commitment of cooperation can be realized,” he said.

It was not the first time this week that cooperation was extolled before a crowd of union members.

At another union meeting — Bermuda Public Service Union’s Fifth Triennial Delegates Conference — Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy stressed the continued need for communication and collaboration.

Mr. Fahy, who is chairman of the Economic Tripartite Committee,  said such ideals “are key if we want to achieve our collective goals”.

The talk of cooperation comes less than a week after BIU President Chris Furbert and Mr. Fahy announced they would work together to address concerns of  union workers and the government. 

That announcement came after a meeting between Cabinet and BIU officials.

Government had been pushing legislation that would have essentially made wildcat strikes by public transit workers illegal; public transportation would have been made an essential service, which would have required 21 days’ notice to strike. 

Wildcat strikes by public transit staff has paralyzed public transportation on the island more than once in recent weeks.