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Anniversary of general strike to be marked with procession

Glenn Fubler, an activist, said Wednesday’s event will provide an insight into the historical strike (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An invitation was issued today for residents to join a peaceful march on Wednesday to mark the ground-breaking 1981 general strike.

The action, which stemmed from a dispute between the United Bermuda Party Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union over an increase in salaries, changed the island’s political direction.

It started in April 1981, when hundreds of government workers and hospital employees walked off the job, demanding a pay rise.

Two weeks later on May 1, the strike gained more support when workers from the Bermuda Telephone Company downed tools and joined the movement.

The strike ended on May 7 when the BIU won wage increases with an average of 20 per cent.

Glenn Fubler, an activist and organiser of Wednesday’s event, said the procession — to start at Victoria Park at midday — “will allow people to get an insight, just a titbit of what history was all about”.

At a press conference today, he said the event is open to everyone and several private and public schools were invited to participate.

Mr Fubler added: “We are looking for the community to come out and get this piece of history as we, in 2024, continue the theme of always learning about our community and about our history.”

Several organisations including Bermuda Is Love, Chewstick, Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda, Imagine Bermuda and Social Justice Bermuda are on board for Wednesday’s event.

Mr Fubler was flanked by the Reverend Jay Tucker of Christ Anglican Church Devonshire, Victor Fishington, former president of Telco’s workers union and Gladwin Simons, who represented hospital workers at the time.

Mr Fubler said the strike “actually brought the community very nearly to violence”.

He recalled: “People were picketing at the airport to press for the increases that were needed under the inflationary situation.”

He said on the first day of the strike, people “from outside of the box came together and they had a spontaneous peace march around Hamilton”.

The march, he recalled, was led by the late Campbell Simons, a police officer who gained support from the late Reverend Canon Thomas Nisbett and the late Reverend Larry Lowe of the Anglican Church in organising the call to action.

Mr Fubler said Mr Simons navigated a crowd of about 200 to 300 people around Hamilton “to help to shift the paradigm in the community at the time”.

According to the organisers of Wednesday’s event, the two church leaders “went beyond their pulpits” to play key roles in the stand-off.

Residents responded “in a spirit of solidarity” and donated $7,000 cash as well as groceries at St Paul’s AME Hall in support of the cause.

The Royal Bermuda Regiment as well as reserve police officers were alerted at the time as tensions brewed.

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Published April 29, 2024 at 4:52 pm (Updated April 29, 2024 at 4:59 pm)

Anniversary of general strike to be marked with procession

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