PLP has been ‘living off the coat-tails’ of UBP’s past prudence, claims Union boss

Union boss Armell Thomas yesterday said the Progressive Labour Party has been “living off the coat-tails” of the United Bermuda Party Government’s financial prudence.

Mr Thomas said Government needs to identify new ways of increasing revenue and creating jobs despite a Budget which pleased him from a union perspective.

He likened the PLP taking power in 1998 to a man who inherits $100,000 when his wife dies, saying: “How long is that $100,000 going to last?

“Instead of spending it all I can take $50,000 and invest it. I think that hasn’t happened here.

“We have been living off the coat-tails of the party that was in before.

“We have got a bright bunch of people that’s here now, but we’ve got to be a bit more innovative with the people in power so we don’t get into more debt.”

In last week’s Budget, Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox pledged to shed zero jobs and reversed last year’s payroll tax increase.

Mr Thomas, President of the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU), reacted last Friday that he was happy with the Budget as it stimulates the economy.

However, yesterday he said: “If I was wearing another hat I would be just a little bit worried in regards to where our Country is going.

“We need innovative people to come up with some ideas. I would like to see more young people involved, making crucial decisions. In private companies, many board members are in their 30s.

“We need to change the product. People are not coming here any more. I know the Christian community is against gambling and things but we need ideas.

“Let a developer come here and give them a free range. Make sure they hire Bermudian construction workers, but let them do what they are going to do.

“Thank goodness for the international companies. But especially the way we treat international companies from time to time we need to come up with a good product.”

Mr Thomas also warned workers not to assume they’re untouchable just because the unions are so strong.

He said many civil servants may feel they can’t be fired because of Ms Cox’s jobs pledge and Government reinstating the bus driver fired for gross misconduct earlier this month.

However he said their jobs are only safe if their performance is good.

Reflecting on Civil Service job security, Mr Thomas told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “I think the jobs are safe, but people have to remember the importance of productivity. As long as they are productive, they should be fine.

“I know some people in the public think the Government jobs are really, really safe, but I tell them don’t always believe that. If people don’t perform, it’s like anywhere else.

“We do have terminations every month, but a lot of these don’t get in the paper. I don’t want people to get the idea that their jobs are safe if they don’t perform.”

Earlier this month, a bus driver was fired for gross misconduct after calling in sick as a driver, but then working a different shift refuelling buses for a colleague the same day.

He was given his job back following three days of strikes from drivers and a perceived threat of a general strike from Bermuda Industrial Union.

“I think that union challenged the process, that’s why they were successful,” reflected Mr Thomas.

“But we have got to bear some responsibility and workers have to play their part.”

He said he understood the bus driver in question had been too sick to drive a bus but was well enough to refuel something which wasn’t made known to a public highly critical of the reinstatement.

“People need to know the full picture or you can get the wrong impression. I think a summary of the tribunal needs to come forward so the public can fully understand what happened.

“Communication is key to any relationship.”

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Published Feb 24, 2011 at 9:04 am (Updated Feb 24, 2011 at 9:04 am)

PLP has been ‘living off the coat-tails’ of UBP’s past prudence, claims Union boss

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