Arbitration centre to be named for Simmons
A former union leader got a standing ovation as the Throne Speech was read yesterday after it was announced a new arbitration centre would be named after him,
Ottiwell Simmons, former president of the Bermuda Industrial Union and a past Progressive Labour Party MP, will have the new centre, to be housed in the old Hamilton Police Station on Parliament Street, named in his honour.
Mr Simmons, 85, who attended the Throne Speech ceremony on the lawn of the Cabinet Office, said afterwards he was surprised at the news.
He added: “Somebody said something to me last night, but I didn’t really know what it was about.
“I feel mixed emotions, to be honest. I feel very proud to be recognised and I know that I did put a lot of effort into making progress for the working class.
“But I always have it in mind that the achievements of the BIU are not Ottie Simmons alone — it is a team.
“I think all of the people that I have been working with are entitled to a lot of credit.
“I want to share it with all my former members and colleagues of the BIU.”
Mr Simmons has just returned to Bermuda after emergency medical treatment overseas. He almost lost a leg last month after a blood clot formed in his leg and doctors warned he would need an emergency amputation.
But daughter Emma Williams insisted on a second opinion and surgeons at a New York hospital were able to remove the clot.
Mr Simmons, however, suffered a stroke as he was being discharged from hospital after the first operation and doctors removed a second clot to save his life.
John Rankin, the Governor, who delivered the Throne Speech on behalf of the Government, told the Cabinet Office audience: “To recognise his unrivalled sacrifice in the service of the labour movement in Bermuda.”
Mr Simmons was president of the BIU from 1974 to 1996 and PLP MP for the Pembroke East constituency from 1976 to 2007.