Article originally appeared in The Royal Gazette on August 24th 2021
Union negotiators and the Government should go head-to-head until a deal is struck over union decertification votes, an Opposition MP said last night.
Jarion Richardson, the shadow labour minister, said: “We recommend the negotiators enter a room, Bermuda locks the door and no one comes out until Bermuda is saved.”
Mr Richardson said: “Otherwise the poor policies of recent history will continue to manifest situations, circumstances and events which are of themselves negative to the whole country. Like a general strike.”
He was speaking after a Bermuda Industrial Union threat of a strike over voting rights on union decertification.
Chris Furbert, the president of the BIU, yesterday insisted that industrial action scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday would leave essential services running and would not be a general strike.
Mr Richardson said it was no surprise that unions were “sensitive to every slight” and highlighted “years of neglect and broken promises” on the bus service.
He added: “The economic state of the country has exposed deep fissures in our relationships between labour and non-labour, even within labour itself.
“Economic prosperity prevented those fissures from rupturing so regularly. It prevented union members from having to fight over every single issue.
“Now, the union has spent so long fighting that it finds itself without allies even in its own political wing.”
Mr Richardson said: “That’s not letting the Progressive Labour Party government off the hook.
“Its own supporters have a hard time seeing how the current activities are founded on the founding principles of labour.“
Mr Richardson added Bermuda’s problems were made worse by an “us and them” approach to gaining power, managing public affairs and negotiations.
He said: “It’s backfired so well, we have the inconceivable – labour against labour.
“Meanwhile, the kitchen lines grow longer, the jobs are harder and harder to come by and hope dims.“
Mr Richardson added: “We have to engage authentically, clearly and fairly with each other. No more bitterness.
“No more corrupting the issues for the gains of the powerful few at the expense of the many.”