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Teachers’ union backs Hayward

The Bermuda Union of Teachers has joined the number of unions speaking out against a Bermuda Government lawsuit against Jason Hayward.

Bob Richards, the Minister of Finance, formally launched a defamation lawsuit — to be paid for by the Government — against the Bermuda Public Service Union (BPSU) over comments made during a paid broadcast on ZBM.

Yesterday, the BUT condemned what it described as a “vulgar move” by Government after slashing public education and requesting the extension of furlough days.

“Rather than tool us with an envious economic recovery plan that creates real jobs for the masses, the Government prefers to fool us with legal schemes to enrich a chosen few under the pretence of defending its reputation in the name of the people,” the union said.

“The appalling news of the recent impending court case, Bermuda Government vs president Jason Hayward, suggests that the government wants to impose a gag order'on the average Bermudian.

“This despicable decision continues a history of indifference and fear-mongering by this administration.

“When it comes to funding public education, safeguarding teachers' salaries, prioritising students' needs, and giving workers their fair share, this government merely flirts with competence.

“Most unfortunately, this lawsuit puts all union members and their resilient leaders on red alert.”

The BUT added that the lawsuit against Mr Hayward demonstrated the administration had cultivated a “rare intolerance for responsible public advocacy”.

“This thin-skinned mentality and self-serving political ambitions are far more important to this regime than the prosperity of students, teachers, and all hardworking Bermudans,” the union said.

The statement follows one by the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU), which fiercely criticised the One Bermuda Alliance, saying it appeared to be “engaged in nothing less than a systematic plot to destroy the trade union movement in Bermuda” and silence public discourse.

The union said this week: “The fact that the OBA government has authorised the funding of all the legal fees for Minister Richards is something that should be of very great concern to every Bermudian because it means that the Government, even during these challenging times when workers are struggling to make ends meet, are prepared to put all of the resources at their disposal for nothing less than an effort to undermine the fundamental democratic rights.”

The BIU said that if the lawsuit was successful, it would hinder the unions' ability to be effective advocates when defending the interests of their members.

The BPSU has also voiced its unwavering support of Mr Hayward, labelling the lawsuit as an attack on free speech.

Mr Richards, meanwhile, defended the decision for the Government to fund the lawsuit, telling the House of Assembly that it entailed allegations made against him while carrying out his duties, and Cabinet had concluded that funding this civil action to be a government purpose.

However, he added that, as of that time, no money had been spent and any payments would be “fully transparent and documented”.

• It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

Jason Hayward, president of the Bermuda Public Service Union (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 27, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 27, 2015 at 1:57 am)

Teachers’ union backs Hayward

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