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Talks still under way on controversial labour law due to take effect next month

Still time for talks: Bermuda Public Services Union president Armell Thomas (File photograph)

A controversial new law to let non-unionised staff vote on whether a workplace should retain union representation is scheduled to come into force next month.

But trade unions are still at loggerheads with Government over the change, which was approved at the start of the year.

Armell Thomas, the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said that unions were still in talks with the Government.

Mr Thomas added: “Despite extensive dialogue on this outstanding issue, the unions have unfortunately not been able to find an agreeable resolution with Government on which workers in a bargaining unit can participate in a vote for decertification.

“The BPSU will make every effort to have continued dialogue on the new legislation and ways to improve conditions within the workplace.”

Mr Thomas highlighted that businesses had had five months to familiarise themselves with the law before they have to put it into practice.

He said: “This six-month delay allowed employees and employers the time needed to acquaint themselves with the new laws before becoming enforceable.

“To ensure compliance, all employers will need to make the necessary changes to their current employment contracts and/or handbooks.

“Those businesses that are unionised will need to make certain that their collective bargaining agreements are in compliance with the new legislation.”

The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act created a single tribunal to handle all employment complaints and labour relations disputes.

The move was well received by the island’s unions, which were consulted at the draft stage of the legislation.

But they threatened to take strike action if an amendment to allow decertification votes was included in the legislation.

The change allowed all workers in a bargaining unit – including non-union staff – to vote on union representation.

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Published May 24, 2021 at 7:54 am (Updated May 24, 2021 at 7:36 am)

Talks still under way on controversial labour law due to take effect next month

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