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BPSU defends bus stoppage

Bus drivers tasked with transporting hospital staff refused to work because they were not provided with personal protective equipment, the Bermuda Public Services Union announced today.

Armell Thomas, the union president, said Department of Public Transportation officers had been instructed on Monday not to work without using PPE.

His statement added: “As per the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 2009, Bermuda's employers are obligated to provide their workers with the PPE needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs.”

David Burt, the Premier, warned on Tuesday that public officers would not get paid if they failed to report to work during the Covid-19 crisis.

Mr Thomas cited the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1982, which allows staff placed in “imminent and serious danger” to refuse to work.

He added: “As the representative for DPT's bus drivers, this is a matter for our sister union, the Bermuda Industrial Union, to address.

“However, while BPSU members did not down tools, the bus drivers' work stoppage has directly impacted them.

“For example, BPSU members responsible for DPT's dispatch were reassigned to provide dispatch services for the Royal Bermuda Regiment.”

Mr Thomas said the stoppage of work was “the result of a breakdown in communications”, in which safety instructions ran against the Government's “failure” to provide PPE.

“The BPSU encourages the Government to foster better lines of communication with both public officers and the unions that represent them.

“Effective communication between parties is an important skill in any environment; however, during a national crises, it is essential.

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

To read the BPSU statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

Armell Thomas, President of the Bermuda Public Services Union (File photograph)

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Published April 02, 2020 at 1:50 pm (Updated April 02, 2020 at 1:55 pm)

BPSU defends bus stoppage

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