BPSU issues complaint about CoH labour practices

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Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge and his Council have been accused of unfair labour practices against their staff and interfering with workers’ union rights.

The allegations were made in a letter of complaint sent by the Bermuda Public Services Union to George Outerbridge, Acting Director at the Department of Labour and Training.

A copy of the letter, dated November 22, was leaked to The Royal Gazette. In it, BPSU general secretary Edward Ball Jr wrote that administrative staff, managers and executive managers at the Corporation of Hamilton are lodging a complaint of unfair labour practices against the Mayor and Council.

Mr Ball made several complaints including attempting to “vary or nullify” the right of a worker or manager in respect of trade union membership under the Trade Union Act.

Further allegations were made that the Mayor and Council attempted to vary or nullify the rights of workers and managers to belong to the union of their choice, and of executive managers and managers to bargain collectively.

The Corporation leaders were accused of “not respecting the importance and confidentiality of executive managers/managers’ job descriptions that form the contractual relationship between the Corporation as the employer and the employee or the union”.

The letter warned that discussions on the duties of managers must occur with them and “not third parties”.

Mr Ball went on to complain that the Mayor and Council “provide ambiguous, varied and mixed instructions to managerial staff contrary to the code of conduct which sets out good governance practices for the employer and employee concerning the day-to-day running of the Corporation”.

He further accused them of failing to honour the spirit of managers’ collective bargaining agreements.

Mr Ball said managers and administrative staff at the Corporation have a “legitimate expectation” that the Mayor and Council will respect the terms and conditions of employment as set out in their collective bargaining agreements.

The letter did not give further details relating to the allegations, and Mr Ball declined to comment when contacted by The Royal Gazette.

Mr Outerbridge took over as Mayor after he and ‘Team Hamilton’ won the Corporation elections in May.

The letter is not the first hint of controversy since then.

Previous complaints have centred on the Corporation’s decision not to waive a fee on the Santa Claus Parade last month, and a decision to increase a tax on shop awnings and introduce a tax on sandwich boards from January 2013.

In September, it was reported that the team in charge of the Corporation had yet to sign onto a code of conduct four months after they took office.

The code covers areas including their conduct in respect to employees of the Corporation.

Invited to respond to the allegations, Mr Outerbridge replied: “I have received a copy of the letter from the Bermuda Public Services Union addressed to Mr George Outerbridge dated November 22, 2012.

“It is my hope the matters outlined in the letter will be resolved swiftly.”

This newspaper also inquired whether the code of conduct has now been adopted. No response was forthcoming by press time.

George Outerbridge was said to be away from the Department of Labour and Training on vacation. E-mails and calls to the press officer for that department went unanswered.

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Published Dec 11, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm)

BPSU issues complaint about CoH labour practices

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