Union to tackle racism, xenophobia
The island’s white-collar union is to hold a forum for expatriate workers to discuss problems with racism and xenophobia.
Jason Hayward, the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said: “In a recent survey conducted by one of Bermuda’s largest employers, over a third of the workforce reported that they had suffered bullying and harassment based on nationality, race and ethnicity.
“Guest workers who enter our economy to fill low-skilled jobs are often subjected to low wages, precarious work, a lack of benefits and unreasonable working hours.
“While it is recognised that there is a local demand for their labour, guest workers frequently experience a lack of acceptance from the wider community.”
Mr Hayward added that the union would also try to set up partnerships with national associations who represent overseas workers in Bermuda.
He said: “The aim is to produce a customised support package specifically for guest workers. The union is committed to continuing its advocacy for social and economic development initiatives, which removes systemic disparities and ensures equal access to quality public services for all.
“Together we must work to end the intolerance and discrimination towards our fellow brothers and sisters.”
Mr Hayward also highlighted institutional racism that Bermuda’s black population had suffered “for decades”.
Mr Hayward was speaking after he attended a five-day Public Service International’s Inter American Regional Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, last week alongside Linda Bogle-Mienzer, the BPSU second vice-president who is also the LGBTQ representative for the Public Service International Caribbean subregion.
The union leader said that the conference spotlighted racism against black and indigenous minorities. He added: “Bermuda is not excluded from the plight experienced by our regional counterparts. Racism and xenophobia also exist in our own country. Our black population forms Bermuda’s economic minority and has been subjected to systemic institutionalised racism for decades.
“The impact of racism on Bermuda’s black population is reflected in disparities in various areas including wealth, income, criminal justice, employment, housing, healthcare and education.”
Ms Bogle-Mienzer joined human rights activists at the Buenos Aires conference with signs designed to promote the rights of LGBTQ people.
She later wrote on her Facebook page: “We are not alone; unions around the world are showing their support for human rights. We chanted ‘everyone deserves love and respect’ ... it’s not complicated at all.”
Ms Bogle-Mienzer spoke at the Public Services International Caribbean subregional meeting in St Vincent&the Grenadines in May on human rights and how unions could be effective as allies.
She also discussed diversity in the workplace and the importance of employers’s recognition of the benefits of having a wide range of staff members.
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