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BIU files overdue financial accounts

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Bermuda Industrial Union has filed seven of its overdue financial accounts following months of complaints that members don’t know how much money is in its coffers.

President Chris Furbert yesterday declared the union is in good financial shape as he revealed audited accounts for 2003 to 2009 had been presented to Registrar General Marlene Christopher on Thursday.

However, the public must continue waiting before discovering the exact details of those documents, as Ms Christopher was away from her desk yesterday.

Mr Furbert, who did not reveal details of the reports at a press conference yesterday, said Ms Christopher will make copies available for a small fee; Registrar office staff said this would not be before she returns to her job and processes them.

Mr Furbert said the accounts for the fiscal year 2009/10 would be ready soon, claiming this would bring the BIU up-to-date.

But One Bermuda Alliance interim chairman Michael Fahy, who has repeatedly claimed it’s illegal for the union not to declare its financial position every year, also questioned what’s happened to the accounts from 1999 to 2002, which have previously been rejected.

Mr Fahy says he has been approached by members saying they are worried there might not be enough cash available to help them out in the case of strike action this summer.

Meanwhile fierce BIU critic Raymond Russell argued Mr Furbert should take no credit as he was only doing what should have been done long ago according the Trade Union Act 1995.

Mr Furbert told a press conference yesterday: “I’m pleased to say that the audited financial statements have been submitted to the Registrar.

“We have done all we can to make sure we have got our finances up-to-date.”

He praised BIU staff for ensuring the accounts were filed, saying: “They have had a lot of criticism in the last few months from Michael Fahy and a few other people.”

Stating the only year outstanding is 2009/10, he added: “It’s a great feeling to know we have finally got [to] the finish line.”

Asked about the state of the finances, he said: “It’s safe to say the BIU is in good financial shape.”

He added that the union has challenges dealing with due structures, salaries and maintenance but added: “We do what we can to make sure we manage the members’ money prudently and correctly.”

Mr Fahy said in a statement yesterday: “I’m pleased the union financial records have been filed as a result of pressure from the OBA.

“This was always about workers coming to us with genuine concerns about the financial integrity of their union and its ability to provide support for laid-off workers.

“The larger point is that we’ve all got to live by the rules. It’s a critical component for a healthy society. If we’ve been able to help underline this principle, then it’s a good result.”

But he added: “We are wondering if the statements that had been previously rejected are now up-to-date and properly filed from 1999 to 2002.”

Mr Russell said: “I’m still disgusted. I heard Chris Furbert on the radio as if he’s done something great. But this needed to be done every year.”

The Trade Union Act 1965 makes it an offence to fail to submit audited annual accounts to the Registrar General before the first day of June every year.

Mr Furbert has said the failure of the union’s computer system was one of a number of reasons for the delay in filing the accounts from 2002 to 2010.

The accounts for 1999 to 2002 were rejected for being statutorily insufficient.

l Useful websites: www.biu.bm, www.oba.bm

The BIU has filed its accounts from 2003 to 2009
Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert reacts to questions during a press conference yesterday.

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Published September 10, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated September 10, 2011 at 8:32 am)

BIU files overdue financial accounts

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