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Rev Tweed links the past, present and future

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Bermuda's 2013 Labour Day weekend may enter the history books as the one where the fervour was high, and the tenor unmistakably austere.

And giving impact to it all, was the “Fasten Your Seat-Belts” alert from Bermuda Industrial President Chris Furbert, addressing workers, management and government leaders alike, attending the union's 32nd Annual Labour Day banquet at Southampton Princess Hotel.

Theme of the banquet was “Willingness to Lead.”

Keynote speaker was the Rev Nicholas Genevieve Tweed, pastor of St Paul AME Church, Hamilton.

His thirty minute speech was interrupted by applause more than a dozen times as he welcomed the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of those brothers and sisters, though no longer with us, had sacrificed and struggled, securing benefits workers enjoying today, often take for granted.

The gravitas of Rev Tweed's banquet speech rekindled memories of how his own father, the Rev Dr Kingsley Tweed (now London-based) had galvanised the 1959 Theatre Boycott that brought an end to government-sanctioned racial segregation in Bermuda.

As a matter of interest, Rev Kingsley Tweed, was at that time the elected Secretary-General of the BIU.

Pastor Tweed reflected on the persistence and determination of 20th century leaders such as Reverend Monk in 1902, and subsequently, MAZUMBO (Dr EF Gordon MP), who fought in the faith and conviction that there's dignity in all labour; and that each generation being confronted by its own challenges, must deal with them or be swept into irrelevance.

In this period of austerity, rising unemployment, declining and stagnating wages, there is a call for shared sacrifices, which the pastor endorsed.

He also endorsed those allies in Government and those corporations that were good corporate citizens as opposed to those gluttons in corporations that put profits over people, taking long weekends on their luxury yachts while workers are being called upon to make ‘shared sacrifices.'

The banquet was highlighted by citations to three former BIU shop stewards, who together had nearly 100 years service before going into retirement.

Awardees were Bro Milton Bean, Sis Shirley Richardson and Bro Wendell (Scopsie) Hassell.

Bro Hassell is an electrician who joined the union in 1964 just before the Belco strike of February 1965.

He became a shop steward and later president the Construction Division, a position he held for 15 years.

He was employed as a foreman at Universal Electric for 25 years before being made redundant, largely because of his union involvement.

Bro Milton Bean joined the union in December 1979, working at the Government Bus Depot as a storeman.

He was voted in as chief shop steward and later president of the Bus Division.

He had multiple challenges getting both his fellow members and management comply with the collective bargaining agreement.

Sis Shirley Richardson came to Bermuda from the southern United States and began working in 1989 at what is now known by the highbrow name of MAWI, short for of Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.

Back in those days it was commonly called ‘Brenda's'.

She was a qualified EMT (Emergency Medical Technician)

In that period the hospital only had ambulance drivers. They were later trained to be EMTs.

She was encouraged to get involved with the union by Sis Shirlene Simons, president of the Hospital Division

There were only two Bermudians, a nurse and an aide on the ward where she was assigned.

It was a most rewarding experience for her when she became a shop steward.

The challenges were not so much with the workers, but mainly management who would knowingly violate the CBA.

After 23 years at MAWI Sis. Shirley is now retired, not by choice because she still has a lot of life and energy. She has been placed on MAWI's ‘on call' list.

Photo by Ira Philip Hundreds gathered for the annual Labour Day march through Hamilton on Monday. Premier Craig Cannonier, accompanied by his wife Antoinette and aides was up front with the marchers. Conspicuous by his absence was Official Opposition Leader Marc Bean. He had spent the weekend in the US attending the marriage of his Progressive Labour Party colleague Sen Marc Daniels.
Photo by Ira Philip Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert with his wife Tracey preparing to take their places at the head table for the 32 Annual Labour Day Banquet at Fairmont Southampton Hotel. On the left is keynote banquet speaker, St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church minister Rev Nicholas Tweed. Others are BIU General Secretary, Sis Molly Burgess, Master of Ceremonies Bro Andre Rochester, who is president of the union's Garage Division, and his wife Alana and Sis Betty Smith, secretary of the Bus Operators & Allied Workers Division,who invoked the opening prayer and blessing.
Photo by Ira Philip Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert (right) is shown with St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church minister Rev Nicholas Tweed.
Photo by Ira Philip Bermuda Industrial Union Labour Day Banquet awardee Wendell (Scopsie) Hassell walks to the podium for his plaque recognising his service to the labour cause.

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Published September 07, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 06, 2013 at 6:28 pm)

Rev Tweed links the past, present and future

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