PLP will have chance to engage tripartite committee
The Opposition will have an opportunity to address the Tripartite Economic Committee, according to Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy.
Sen Fahy said that while he denied an “eleventh hour” request to consider inviting the Progressive Labour Party to a two-day retreat, held last week, the party and private stakeholders will be able to make presentations.
“Over the coming weeks these partners will be invited to present specific information,” he said. “The information gathered via these presentations will aid in the development of a detailed economic recovery work plan intended to guide the Committee's collaborative efforts.
The Tripartite Economic Committee was created as a result of discussions between Government and the unions as a means of providing the Island's unions a voice in any discussions about cost cutting measures that could effect members.
Last Thursday and Friday the Committee met at the Fairmont Southampton for the two-day retreat to discuss a way forward for the Island.
During the meeting, Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert questioned why the Progressive Labour Party had not been invited. He said while he understood the desire for the retreat to be apolitical, not inviting the Opposition made it political.
Asked about the decision in the Senate yesterday, Sen Fahy said the agenda had been set by the organising committee. He acknowledged that he received a request several days before the retreat to consider inviting the Opposition, but he refused in part so the retreat wouldn't become “political grandstanding”.
“Not as an exclusion completely, as you will see at another stage the Opposition will have an opportunity to be heard,” Sen Fahy said.
“It was my view, and I stand by it, that this was an economic retreat with delegates assigned by the Tripartite Committee pursuant to an agreement under a memorandum of understanding. The organising committee had not been consulted at the time.
“We will be inviting other stakeholder groups and the community, including the Opposition, to make presentations to the committee. Again, I did not believe at that time it was appropriate for the Opposition to be there simply so it would not turn into political grandstanding.”
While he said there were several presentations made by Government ministers, he said no blame was placed on anyone.
“We said these are the hard, cold facts we are faced with, this is what we are doing to address this, now let's open up the floor to discussion.”
Sen Fahy said around 120 people representing the unions and a range of employers took part in the retreat, along with himself, Premier Craig Cannonier, Finance Minister Bob Richards, Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons and Tourism Development and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell.
Attendees were also given a presentation by the Department of Statistics about the Island's unemployment rate, before taking part in a discussion led by Dr Janet Fergusson.
“Based on the output from these discussions, it is clear that the collective thinking of unions, employers and the Government is aligned,” Sen Fahy said.
“The documented views, opinions and ideas generated as output from the retreat discussions will now be shared with the Economic Tripartite Committee and used to help shape the work of the Committee as we move forward in the best interest of Bermuda.”
The second day of the retreat was hosted by the Labour Advisory Council, and was dedicated to labour relations training in the areas of negotiation, mediation and arbitration.