Deadline approaches in firefighters' dispute

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Airport General Manager James Howes has appealed for quick action to solve the firefighters' dispute ahead of Saturday's deadline day for strike action.

A 21-day strike notice was issued on November 22 by Bermuda Industrial Union fire fighters with action set to take place on December 14 in a dispute over a new collective agreement.


Airport General Manager James Howes has appealed for quick action to solve the firefighters' dispute ahead of Saturday's deadline day for strike action.

A 21-day strike notice was issued on November 22 by Bermuda Industrial Union fire fighters with action set to take place on December 14 in a dispute over a new collective agreement.

Yesterday bosses BAS Serco met with Government labour relations officers. The Royal Gazette understands the BIU met with Government on Monday.

Last night Labour Ministry Permanent Secretary Robert Horton said talks were continuing but the 21-day strike notice was still on the table.

He said: "We are optimistic it will be resolved before the 21-day deadline."

These thoughts were echoed by Mr. Howes. He said: "We are in daily contact with BAS Serco about this issue.

"They have assured us there will be no interruption in firefighter service protection at the airport.

"I can't get into the specifics. A contingency plan has been made. The Minister of Transport is working very closely with the Minister of Labour to see the dispute is resolved.

"It's a very complicated issue. There are two different unions. It's almost a three-way dispute between two unions in one bargaining unit."

An industrial tribunal earlier this year ruled firefighters who wanted to represented by the BIU could be but others could stay out of the union if they wish.

Mr. Howes said: "It's very convoluted and will take some time to sort out. I don't think any kind of work stoppage is the way to work it out.

"I hope cooler heads will prevail."

Labour Minister Terry Lister has the option of referring the dispute to binding arbitration if no settlement is found before Saturday because the firefighters are an essential service under Bermuda law.

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