We urgently need to resolve the transport work stoppage. Today is the 12th day without buses on our roads, a failure amplified by additional ferry stoppage.
The Opposition does not wish to add fuel to the fire. We have discussed the stoppage with both Government and the BIU, encouraging all parties to reach a solution. We remain hopeful common sense will prevail.
At present, the parties disagree about why work has stopped.
The BIU considers this is a health and safety issue, having initially complained buses were inadequately cleaned, and having requested a meeting they did not get.
Whereas Government considers this a labour dispute. It says the drivers failed to appreciate how much cleaning was already being done and did not await investigation before commencing “an unlawful work stoppage” based on a misunderstanding.
The BIU denies the work stoppage is a labour dispute, it says it is merely about health and safety.
Importantly, both sides agree the initial complaint has been resolved. Yet an impasse remains: the BIU says drivers must be paid for unworked days. Government says ‘no work, no pay’.
The OBA encourages both government and union leaders to show Bermuda that they serve the interests of everyone, with any personal agendas put aside.
Government has now referred the dispute to a labour tribunal. In theory, this should end the work stoppage. However, the BIU contests Government’s referral, contending the health and safety stoppage, does not amount to a labour dispute capable of referral.
Regardless of who is right, it is the Bermudian public who continues to be caught in the middle.
Monday saw the Government hire mini-buses in a contingency plan outlined to Parliament last week. The BIU responded telling Government: “Let’s have a conversation”.
Dialogue is always welcome. The One Bermuda Alliance will continue to engage with both sides to try and find a resolution, which is urgently needed.
We shall see if Government’s tribunal referral brings a return of service. Respectfully, who was right, and whether pay is due, can and should be decided at a later date. We cannot have any further stoppage while the BIU debates whether Government was right to refer to the tribunal.
We need buses and ferries back in operation now. The public must not suffer further.