*Photo by Don Burgess
*Photo by Don Burgess

6PM UPDATE: The Department of Education is advising parents that although public transportation has been suspended for tomorrow morning (February 6) all public schools will be open at the normal operating time.

The Department is aware of the inconvenience this will cause; however parents can be assured that the Department and Principals will make every effort to work with parents during this period.

For more updates, please visit the Department of Education website at www.moed.bm

 

 


5:30pm update: Please be advised that the Department of Public Transportation and Department of Marine and Ports have advised that there will be no bus or ferry service tomorrow morning and until further notice.

An advisory will be sent once services have resumed.


4:45PM UPDATE: Please be advised that bus and ferry services are running this afternoon and evening as follows:

Department of Public Transportation (DPT) staff have returned to work and bus service is running according to schedule.

The Bermuda Industrial Union has also advised that DPT staff will not return to work tomorrow morning so there will be no bus service on Thursday, February 6th.

Marine and Ports Staff will run Sea Express Ferry services at 5.30 p.m. only on the Pink and Green routes.

An advisory will be sent once it has been determined if M&P staff will be operating services tomorrow morning.

 


4:15 PM UPDATE: Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said: “Critical services in relation to school buses [will run] and there will be a late night ferry service — as far as I am aware — to get people back home from work. My understanding after that, there will be no further service, but we hope we can avoid further industrial dispute."

The Minister said those workers involved in essential services, which would include the post office and hotel, should return to work and let the arbitration process work.

“The Government’s position in respect to the Government workers is that we will follow the terms of the Labour Relations Act and collective bargaining agreement to a tee.”

 


Full Statement by Minister Michael Fahy

As you are aware, in the past few days we have witnessed various levels of industrial action stemming from an employment dispute between the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.

At the earliest opportunity the Ministry of Home Affairs was advised of the situation and sought to bring the parties together so that the issue could be resolved.

I advised on Monday that under Section 5 of the Labour Relations Act 1975, and in the interest of seeking a resolution, I referred the matter to a dispute panel on Saturday 1st February 2014, with each party being invited to appoint their assessors by 3rd February.

It was anticipated that since the matter was referred, that both parties would withdraw any action until the arbitration process has concluded and ensure that business operated as normal as possible.

However earlier today, and for the second time this week, I've had to step in to address the ongoing industrial action – and this time it was regarding a dispute with the Bermuda Industrial Union and Fairmont Southampton Hotel.

And in an effort to address this most recent impasse, this morning I also referred the matter to a dispute panel in the interest of seeking a resolution.

Since referring the matters to arbitration, we witnessed a demonstration by union members, which included some public service workers, in support of the union’s stance.

My understanding this afternoon is that those public service workers have since returned to work to provide critical and commuter services.

Yet, while we recognise the rights of workers to demonstrate in solidarity for their cause, we must be mindful that there are mechanisms in place which allow for the proper protocols to be followed so that it doesn’t result in a disruption of services to the public.

As it relates to the BIU / Fairmont disputes, at this time, I can advise that earlier this afternoon the parties came together with a view to discussing the matter in accordance with the arbitration process.

We will continue to do our due diligence to monitor the situation and follow the guidelines set out under the Labour Relations Act 1975 to ensure that we come to some form of resolution that benefits all concerned.

Finally, I said earlier this week that the entire situation is very unfortunate for a number of reasons and it remains my sincere hope that the BIU and Fairmont can find some common ground on this.

As the Minister responsible for Labour, I recognise and support the view that the rights of the worker must be upheld and protected.

And I think we must also be mindful of the current state of our economy and our hospitality industry.

Our economy continues to be in recovery and our tourism industry remains in a very precarious state.

So we must do all we can as a people and as a Country to ensure that we protect and preserve what strides we have made in these areas.

Thank you.

 

 

 


3PM UPDATE: More than 400 people are currently gathered outside of the Union Hall. The crowd includes telephone workers, hospital workers, bus drivers, ferry operators and employees of works and engineering.

 

 

“It’s a really good turnout,” said one worker who did not want to be named. “I’m here because it’s them today, it could be me tomorrow. We all need to stick together on this.”

 

 

The mood is calm outside of the Union Hall. About a half a dozen uniformed police officers are currently stationed there. The crowd is so large it is spilling onto Victoria Street.

 

 


2:30PM UPDATE: DPT staff are now returning to work and buses should be running on schedule within the hour.

 

 


An island-wide stoppage has been called as the Fairmont Hamilton Princess row escalates.

All BIU members are being asked to show up at Union Square as soon as they can get there.

The move has paralyzed SeaExpress ferry services on the island. Unionized staff from the Department of Marine and Ports have opted to attend a meeting at Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) headquarters today. Ferry services is suspended until further notice.

There was a meeting at BIU headquarters, with members from the two Fairmont hotels and the BIU’s general council

Members marched to the Cabinet Office afterwards to “send a clear message to Government”, said BIU President Chris Mr Fubert.

He added: “After that, they have decided enough is enough. They have asked me to put a call out to the entire BIU membership to meet at Union Square as soon as they can make it.

“We are anticipating within the next hour or two to get many more members from the BIU to rally behind their members — our brothers and our sisters — at the Fairmont Southampton and the Hamilton Princess.”

Mr Furbert was adamant that the BIU would not take part in any arbitration hearings until the union workers are restored to their jobs at the Hamilton Princess.

He said once that happens, the union workers will “cease and desist in any industrial action”.

The only exception is that the buses will run this afternoon to take home children from school.

“I am hoping that I can encourage them (bus operators) to take home the schoolchildren this afternoon as well as take home the five o’clock commuters. I’m not guaranteeing the five o’clock commuters side, but I think I can convince them to take the school children back home this afternoon in good faith.”

He said the rest of the hotel workers at Bermuda’s other properties were not asked to be at the morning meeting “but they are certainly asked to be here now. Every hotel worker that works at every hotel throughout the island that is unionized, we’re asking them to come to Union Square this afternoon as soon as they can get here”.

Last Friday, 10 workers at the Hamilton Princess of the hotel were made redundant, the BIU says the collective bargaining agreement was not followed.

Yesterday, unionized workers of the hotel downed tools in support of their colleagues and were joined this morning by workers from the Fairmont Southampton.

BIU president Chris Furbert said buses would run this afternoon to take home schoolchildren, but that could be the extent of service.

 

More details to come as this story develops.