Labour Day banquet one of best in recent years
The social highlight of the 30th Anniversary of Labour Day Celebrations in Bermuda proved to the annual banquet sponsored by the Bermuda Industrial Union. It turned out to be one of the best in recent years, despite a so-called boycott by some entities in the Bermuda Trade Union Congress. BIU President Chris Furbert took no note of the boycott in his straightforward Labor Day message. Neither did the spellbinding guest speaker, Lawrence Hamm, directly. But it was obvious that a recurring thread in his stirring 45-minute speech was for baulking entities to get their act together. Mr. Hamm said one of the problems today is that labour is fighting itself. The struggle to transform society is a struggle to transform ourselves, he added. A Princeton University graduate, he is President of the Newark, New Jersey based People’s Organization for Progress. In 1986, Mr Hamm travelled throughout the Deep South retracing the route of the 1960s Freedom Rides. He said has spoken to countless events in many places, but he considered being at the BIU Banquet was the greatest honour he’s ever had. At the outset of his speech Mr. Hamm said he didn’t know anything about the BIU until the union’s staff had mailed him a weighty ‘tome’ which was The History of The Bermuda Industrial Union, authored by Ira Philip. Staff had noted four or five pages they suggested he ought to read. But he read and re-read the entire book. And having done so, he had “tremendous respect” for the BIU, which he called “one of the greatest labour organisations in this hemisphere.” Its history should be required reading in all Bermuda schools. Aware that the author was one of the guests at the banquet he called on Ira Philip to take a bow; and then for the audience to give him a standing ovation. I have to confess that as difficult as it is ordinarily to keep a low profile sometimes it becomes impossible, like at the Labour Day Banquet and again during the speech by the Official Opposition Leader John Barritt MP.