*File photo
*File photo

Ferry workers have gone on strike over maintenance issues.

Yesterday there was a temporary stoppage as workers held a meeting and then resumed the service at 4pm to allow passengers to get home in the evening. 

Chris Furbert, head of the BIU, warned last week there were problems with Marine and Ports, as well as Parks, as the Fairmont Hamilton Princess issue was resolved.

At that time he said the union has some “very serious concerns that need to be addressed”.

He added, “If this isn’t going to be an eye-opener for the country, I don’t know what it’s going to take. If you think yesterday was bad, it could get a whole lot worse.”

A Government spokesperson told us last week: “The Ministries of Public Works and Tourism and Transport are aware of the issues and working with the respective Departments and Bermuda Industrial Union to find a resolution.”

Press Release from Minister Michael Fahy:

In the wake of this latest union dispute, which has seen Marine and Ports Services workers withdraw service, the Minster of Home Affairs, Sen. the Hon. Michael M. Fahy, JP, advises the public that early yesterday evening (Feb. 19) the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, the Hon. Shawn Crockwell, JP, MP, was successful in obtaining an injunction from the Chief Justice in an effort to ensure that essential services resumed. 

This specifically relates to those workers engaged in port and dock services including pilotage, tug and line boat operation as identified in the Labour Relations Act 1975. It is understood that pilotage services in this area have largely resumed.  However other workers remain out.

Meanwhile, discussions are ongoing as between representatives of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) and Ministry of Home Affairs, Workforce Development officers to come to a resolution. 

Should those discussions not be successful then the next step is for the Minister of Home Affairs to refer the essential services dispute to arbitration.

As regards the so called non-essential services, such as ferry operators, the Minister of Home Affairs advises that consent has not been obtained from both parties to enable a reference to be made to arbitration under the Labour Relations Act 1975.

Accordingly, the Minister of Home Affairs has exercised his discretion to refer the matter to arbitration under the Labour Disputes Act 1992 and has therefore issued a Labour Dispute Notice.

Section 19 of the Labour Disputes Act 1992 is clear - that after notice is published in the (Official) Gazette, a lock-out, strike or irregular industrial action short of a strike is unlawful. It is expected that since the Notice has been issued, all non-essential service workers should withdraw any action and return to work.

Today Minister Fahy said, “We’ve only just recently dealt with industrial issues a couple of weeks ago which saw the public adversely affected due to curtailed services. There are collective bargaining agreements in place, as well as statutory provisions that govern dispute resolution. It is imperative that such procedures are followed.

“I shared my views regarding the importance of following the statutory framework with the Labour Advisory Council this past Friday. The process cannot work effectively unless and until those affected can come together in the spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.

“As it relates to this latest impasse, again, it is my hope that the parties can come together to try and find a resolution that benefits all concerned.”