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Furbert: Labour Force Survey remarks

BIU president Chris Furbert speaks at a press conference on the annoncement of a day of reflection for the 50th anniversary of the Belco strikes surrounded by Wentworth Christopher, Ottiwell Simmons, Ronnie Burgess, Glenn Simmons, and John Stovell (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Bermuda Industrial Union head Chris Furbert addressed Government’s release of a workforce survey today at the union’s headquarters.

Saying that he wished to clear up statements made by Finance Minister Bob Richards, Mr Furbert gave the following remarks:

“The Minister of Finance Mr Richards, on January 9, 2015, held a press conference ‘to release and discuss the results of the 2014 Labour Force Survey. The Minister also made a public statement on January 12, 2015 concerning the number of jobs that were lost in 2013, and comments that I was supposed to have made regarding the matter. He accused me of putting out misinformation because, according to him, ‘we never lost over 1000 jobs’. Therefore the purpose of this press conference is to clarify certain statements made by Minister Richards.

1. Anytime I have made a public comment about the loss of jobs over the past few years it has always been based on the information put out by the Department of Statistics.

2. Therefore when I said that we lost 1,166 jobs in 2013 that was correct. I never said that those jobs were all Bermudian.

3. The 2014 Labour Force Survey Executive Report that the Minister speaks about for employment is only a snapshot of employment because it was taken from 1500 households or 5.25% out of 28,818 households.

4. The report that the Minister needs to pay attention to is the Fact and Figures that is put out by the Department of Statistics each year which tracks the changes in employment year over year. This information is complied based received from the 16 major divisions of economic activity.

5. The Minister of Finance in 2013 at the Tripartite Retreat for Government, Employers and Union held at the Fairmont Southampton, stated that Non Bermudians are not counted in the unemployment rate.

6. This was very concerning so I asked the Department of Statistics if, when you look at the unemployment rate, it includes Non-Bermudians. The answer was ‘yes’, and that made sense.

7. There are at least 3,300 non-Bermudians that have gone out of the workforce since 2008 who are no longer paying payroll tax and this also has had a very serious impact on Governments revenues — $200 to $300 million. So the Minister of Finance needs to get his head out the sand and realise that these workers also need to count when it comes to the overall loss of jobs.