BPSU backs Covid-19 efforts, calls for unity – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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BPSU backs Covid-19 efforts, calls for unity

Bermuda's white-collar union will fight for the rights of members whose lives have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, it promised yesterday.

Armell Thomas, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said it took its responsibilities seriously and would work with the public to limit the economic impact of the virus.

Mr Thomas added: “In Bermuda, Covid-19 is already having an unparalleled effect on working life and workers' livelihoods, with large numbers of the workforce likely to be absent at any one time.

“This will include not only those who become ill or are in self-quarantine, but also employees who stay home to care for their partners or dependents who become ill.

“Likewise, many workers with children will find it impossible to go to work as a result of school closures.”

Mr Thomas backed the Government's call for people to work from home — but warned that was not an option for more than a quarter of the workforce.

He said: “According to the 2019 Bermuda Employment Brief, the combined total of workers employed in retail trade and repair services (2,797 employees), hotels (2,383 employees), restaurant, cafés and bars (2,164 employees) and construction (2,136 employees) equates to 28 per cent of Bermuda's total labour force, most of whom have seen their workplaces closed in response to Covid-19.

“The BPSU was gratified to see Government's quick response to the implementation of the unemployment benefit of up to $500 per week to those workers — Bermudian and migrant workers — out of work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is imperative that concerted efforts are made to protect those workers who are most vulnerable to layoffs, especially those low-income workers.”

Mr Thomas said the BPSU had provided accurate and up-to-date information to its members and had remained and was in regular talks with the Government and managers of its divisions.

He added: “It is essential that the Government, unions, employers and employees actively work together to ensure that the effects of the outbreak are minimised.

“International lessons learnt from previous economic crises and epidemics have shown better outcomes in jurisdictions where unions and governments have collectively worked together.

“With this in mind, the BPSU encourages the Government to bring together a task force of the island's unions and employers to help co-ordinate the national effort.

“If we remain united with the best interest of Bermuda's health and socioeconomic future in mind and action the ILO's recommendations, I have no doubt that we will weather this storm.”

Union leader: Armell Thomas, president of the BPSU (File photograph)

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Published March 31, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 31, 2020 at 9:02 am)

BPSU backs Covid-19 efforts, calls for unity

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