March 7, 2021

Industrial union members march as Bermuda hotel sackings row escalates

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images-Business-Bermuda_strike_979235342From Caribbean360

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Thursday February 6, 2014, CMC – The powerful Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) Wednesday staged a massive show of strength in the capital support of 10 workers sacked by an historic hotel here last week.

The dispute has gone to arbitration, but the BIU appears not willing to participate.

Government said bus services were hit, while ferries were cancelled, as union workers downed tools in support of the workers dismissed by the Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel.

Five of the dismissed workers are members of the union.

The industrial action escalated on Wednesday morning when staff at the resort’s sister hotel, the Fairmont Southampton, voted to walk off the job. Unionised hotel workers marked that decision with a march through the streets of the capital at lunchtime.

The BIU promised an even greater show of strength later in the day, with members from all union divisions — including transport workers — called in for another protest march.

“The march was a result of a meeting that we had this morning. Members from both hotel properties and all our general council members met this morning and decided enough was enough and decided to ask me to put a call out to the entire union membership to come up to Union Square as soon as they could make it, “ said BIU president Chris Furbert.

“We are anticipating that in the next hour or two we should get many more members of the BIU to come here and get behind the members of the Fairmont Southampton and Hamilton Princess.”

Furbert said he did not know how services would be affected by any further march later on Wednesday.

“We will do what we can about what services we’re going to provide this afternoon. I’m hoping that I can at least encourage them to take the schoolchildren home as well as make sure we take care of the five o’clock commuters. I’m not guaranteeing the commuter side but I think they will be there for the schoolchildren.”

Hundreds of union members took part in the lunchtime march through Hamilton, which caused traffic along Front Street to be diverted.

Marching 10 abreast, the ranks of workers stopped outside the Cabinet Office and the offices of Workforce Development, where an arbitration hearing into the dispute got under way on Wednesday.

Furbert said hotel management had not followed “normal process” when carrying out the redundancies.

He has also said staff would not return to work and the union would not take part in any arbitration until the dismissed staff had been reinstated — a move the hotel has so far refused to countenance.

“The significance of stopping on Front Street at the Cabinet Office was to send a clear message to the government,” Furbert said.

Labour and Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy said on Tuesday that he would continued to monitor the impasse and that he had referred it to a dispute panel last Saturday.

“These are very unfortunate circumstances. However, I am renewing my call to both groups and asking them to ensure that business operates as normal as possible until this matter has been satisfactorily resolved.

“It remains my sincere hope that the parties can rectify this matter for the benefit of all involved.”

The industrial action comes as Bermuda attempts to revive its ailing tourism industry. A new Tourism Authority, which has taken over most of the work done previously by the Tourism Department, has just been launched

PHOTO: Union members marching in the streets of the capital. Ivan Clifford

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