People’s Campaign makes a comeback
The People’s Campaign has returned to the public eye with a string of policy proposals and a renewed pledge to hold the Government to account.
Chris Furbert, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union and one of three leaders of the campaign, said the Progressive Labour Party was given “a clear mandate on July 18 to use and not abuse”.
He added: “All we are asking the Government to do is make sure they are listening to the people.”
The group was instrumental in the organisation of high-profile protests against the former One Bermuda Alliance government.
Fellow campaign leader, the Reverend Nicholas Tweed, said its role remained the same after the change in government.
Mr Tweed said: “We were not tough on the OBA. We were tough on policy and tough for the people we represent. That will not change.”
Mr Furbert added: “Back then, we sat down with Michael Dunkley, the premier of the day, to have a dialogue, collaboration and a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform.
“Then it was like they’re spinning our wheels, saying we’re listening to you, talking to you, but we’re not really hearing.
“Naturally enough, the relationship changed from one thing to something else.”
Mr Furbert said the Government did not need to be “dictatorial”.
He added: “As long as they use their mandate in accordance with what the people have given, they will be fine.”
Mr Tweed said democracy was a partnership and social contract that needed to be “honoured and not violated”.
He added: “The previous administration ran into problems because the majority of people began to believe that contract had been violated.
“That produced a historic PLP landslide. The current government is fully aware of the support and the trust placed in them and also the expectation that the social contract will be honoured in order to move the island forward.”
Mr Tweed said the group’s policies of jobs, justice and greater equality “builds on initiatives we had been developing in previous years”.
He added: “When we formed, we had a vision of being more of a collaborative, policy-orientated entity, and reserved the advocacy role. Having exhausted those avenues, we were forced to resort to more advocacy. This document is more a policy document than a manifesto.”
The 12-page document listed a new Workforce Equity Bill, price controls and standardised healthcare costs among its priorities.
The People’s Campaign wish list also called for tougher immigration policies and better training for Bermudians, as well as the creation of a culture of entrepreneurship.
Mr Tweed warned that calls for a living wage should not be confused with “a glorified minimum wage”.
He said that “we tend to function as if financial and corporate rules and the distribution of wealth are somehow natural laws, as opposed to policy choices”.
Mr Tweed: “We tend to agree with the argument that there has to be moral courage and a will to make the commitment to structural adjustments, of which wage is one component.”
The two said any discussion about a comeback for term limits would have to be left to Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, after a review of the findings of the immigration working group.
Other sections in the document called for strengthened complaints boards for the police and prison service, which Mr Tweed said was influenced by the clash between protesters and police outside Parliament in December 2016.
Mr Furbert said that the People’s Campaign had highlighted a need for comprehensive immigration reform before a standoff over the proposed Pathways to Status legislation.
He said: “If we’d had that comprehensive immigration reform, then some of the issues we are facing now, I’m not saying they would all be eliminated, but most of them would have been.”
Other proposals included:
• Linking work permits to the training of Bermudians;
• Strengthened parish councils, with more financial support for community clubs;
•Financial literacy classes in school curriculums;
• Legislation to promote co-operatives and
• Price controls.
• To read the People’s Campaign document in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”