Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert *File photo
Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert *File photo

Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert claims Government’s plan to privatize or outsource various departments could prove more costly.

Giving his response to the 2014/2015 Budget, Mr Furbert said at a press conference today that not only could privatization cost government more money, but it should also consult with the public before making any decisions.  

The departments up for privatization include Airport Operations, CITV, Ship Registry, Parks Maintenance, Conservation Services and Social Insurance.

Mr Furbert said if Government were to outsource Parks for instance, whoever ends up running the department could cost government more to maintain the island’s parks than what the cost is now.

“These are all public services that the Minister of Finance is asking for the Committee of the Public Bodies Reform Act to make recommendations to the government on the services they think should be set up as mutualisation, privatization or outsourcing.

“It is the BIU’s opinion that the Minister of Finance indeed has the cart before the horse because he has not had any meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders concerning the future of public services.

“Therefore by setting up this Public Bodies Reform Act to make these recommendations to take away public services in premature to say the least.”

He continued: “The Premier promised collaboration and transparency. Where is it?

“This is a very serious situation that we are talking about so we need to get it right.”

Mr Furbert said consulting with stakeholders means the public, employers, the unions and associations before making decisions that will affect the public.

Speaking on the Public Bodies Reform Act, Mr Furbert took issue with the board only consisting of two union members to five members of the public.

“I am not sure how the Minister came up with the make-up of this committee, but certainly it would appear that the unions were selected as some kind of tokenism because it looks like the deck is stacked against them with only two members.

“Therefore I ask, how much of a say will the unions truly have on this committee with only two voting members?”

Reflecting on the budget read a week ago by Finance Minister Bob Richards, Mr Furbert noted that the government overspent in a variety of areas including wages, advertising and promotions, materials and supplies and travel.

But, government underspent in salaries, a three per cent difference.

Mr Furbert has called for Mr Richards to explain to the island why overspending occurred in the various departments.