General Strike commemoration to livestream today
Activists will livestream a commemoration today to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 General Strike.
Glenn Fubler, a community activist and founder of Imagine Bermuda, said it was a celebration of “the largest peaceful protest in our history”.
The island-wide shutdown came after a strike on April 11, which brought out 1,100 hospital and Government members of the Bermuda Industrial Union, and spread to other workers.
Mr Fubler said the “iconic shared legacy included a number of firsts”.
He added a “spontaneous, peaceful march” through Hamilton that year to celebrate May Day, accompanied by music and drumming, was done “not in the spirit of confrontation, but of invitation”.
Mr Fubler said it was the island’s “first protest march throughout the centre of political and financial power of Bermuda” – led by an on-duty police sergeant.
The Bermuda Union of Teachers voted on May 4 to come out in sympathy with the BIU.
Mr Fubler said it was the first time members of two Bermuda unions joined forces in industrial action.
Ottiwell Simmons, the president of the BIU, that night called for a General Strike on May 5, with the support of other unions, another first for Bermuda.
Hundreds from the Bermuda Union of Teachers and the Electrical Supply Trade Union marched to Union Square in Hamilton, joining thousands of BIU members on May 5.
Members of the then-Bermuda Public Services Association later joined a rally at Devonshire Recreation Club.
Mr Fubler said the 1960s and 1970s had been marred by violence and riots.
But he highlighted that the four decades after 1981 saw no major violence.
Mr Fubler said the 40th anniversary would also be celebrated with a declaration.
He added: “The goal is to promote a consensus that we can learn from lessons of that iconic milestone with the view of leveraging the potential of moving forward addressing new challenges, together.”
A special observance will be released at 1pm.