By Trevor Moniz, Shadow Minister for Justice and Attorney General, August 17, 2011
How is it that we can have a labour government that cannot reach agreement with a union and a union that cannot reach agreement with a labour government?
The failure to resolve this situation is a failure of leadership, a failure to go the extra mile to reach agreement. As a result, the country is being held to ransom and the people who least can afford the disruptions are the ones most affected.
We have looked closely at the situation and believe it may hinge on two competing documents – the collective bargaining agreement and the employee’s terms of employment.
On the one hand, the Transport Minister says the bus driver at the centre of the dispute agreed in her terms of employment to urine testing and “other tests ordinarily necessary” for the presence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
On the other hand, union boss Chris Furbert maintains the worker’s refusal was based on Transport officials asking for a hair follicle test instead of a urine test as stipulated in the collective bargaining agreement.
If the two sides are simply holding to positions in competing documents, then an arbitrator needs to be appointed quickly to settle the matter – as provided for in law – and strike action should be withheld.
There is no apparent justification for this situation to deteriorate to the point that Bermuda is crippled by a transport strike. It’s time for responsible behaviour all around.