Senator Michael Fahy. *Photo supplied
Senator Michael Fahy. *Photo supplied

Ministerial Statement

By

Senator, The Hon. Michael M. Fahy, J.P.

Minister of Home Affairs

Wednesday, 20 November, 2013

 

Tripartite Retreat

 

 

Madam President, I’m pleased today to report on the Tripartite Retreat held last week at the Fairmont Southampton on the 14th and 15th November.  The two-day event was focused on the economy on day-one and labour relations on day-two.

 

The first day of the event was hosted by the Tripartite Economic Committee. 

 

Senate Colleagues will recall that in July this year a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC) was signed.  The Government sought the BTUC’s assistance in helping to reduce the current deficit through cost cutting measures. 

 

One of the agreements reached in the MOU was the formulation of a Tripartite Economic Committee. The BTUC’s position that any economic recovery initiatives for Bermuda that involves unionised bargaining groups should have union input was accepted by the Government representatives. 

 

Madam President, it was against this backdrop that as part of the MOU the formulation of a Committee with the active participation of all tripartite partners was agreed and accepted by the Government.

 

In October 2013, the Premier appointed me, the Minister of Home Affairs, as Chairman of the Tripartite Economic Committee.  The Retreat provided a platform to commence our work as a Committee.

 

Madam President, day-one of the Retreat was designed to invite wider input into the work of the Committee with a view to engaging the delegates in robust discussion aimed at addressing Bermuda's current economic, social and workforce challenges.

 

Around 120 individuals representing Unions and Employers attended. I was joined on the first day of the Retreat by the Premier, the Hon. Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Finance, the Hon. Bob Richards, the Minister of Economic Development, Dr. the Hon. Grant Gibbons and the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, the Hon. Shawn Crockwell.

 

The summit began with the Premier, the Hon. Craig Cannonier challenging the group to engage in constructive and meaningful dialogue to try and fix the issues the Country is facing.

 

Madam President, over the course of the day the group was given several presentations, including an economic overview from the Ministry of Finance regarding the state of Government's debt and revenues.

Minister Richards reiterated the sobering fact that Government must get the deficit under control and increase economic growth.

 

Meanwhile, Minister Crockwell provided an overview regarding the steps being taken to revive Bermuda's tourism product, while Minister Grant Gibbons noted that some positive steps are being made in the area of economic development.

 

The Department of Statistics provided a presentation on the rate of unemployment and the afternoon rounded out with a discussion facilitated by Dr. Janet Fergusson.

 

Dr. Fergusson posed questions to the group aimed at stimulating dialogue about the Bermuda's socio-economic condition, the way forward and how to achieve solutions.

 

Madam President, based on the output from these discussions, it is clear that the collective thinking of Unions, Employers and the Government is aligned.  The documented views, opinions and ideas generated as output from the Retreat discussions will now be shared with the Economic Tripartite Committee and used to help shape the work of the Committee as we move forward in the best interest of Bermuda.

 

Madam President, it was determined at the Committee’s wrap-up meeting at the conclusion of the day that specific presentations from private sector stakeholders and the Opposition will now be organized so that the Committee might have the benefit of a more holistic view of potential collaborative opportunities as well as specific points of integration. 

 

Over the coming weeks these partners will be invited to present specific information.  The information gathered via these presentations will aid in the development of a detailed economic recovery work plan intended to guide the Committee’s collaborative efforts.

 

Madam President, day-two of the Retreat was hosted by the Labour Advisory Council and was dedicated to labour relations training in the areas of Negotiation, Mediation, and Arbitration.  The training was facilitated by Evelyne R. Matthews and Arthur T. Matthews of Matthews and Matthews Consulting which is a human resources and labour workforce company.  Both trainers serve as adjunct faculty members at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labour Relations. 

 

The training day was intended to sharpen the skills of all those engaged in the labour relations space and to strengthen working relationships between all of the parties – Government, Unions and Employers.

 

Madam President, the two day Retreat was both informative and productive.  I am grateful to all those who attended the event and I look forward to the future with great optimism.

 

 

Thank you Madam President.