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Represent the workers

February 29, 2012

Dear Sir,

If the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU) along with other Trade Union Congress (TUC) members and the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) have all agreed in principle, on behalf of their members, to the wage cut and pension freeze proposal, shouldn’t civil servants who are not union members have a say as well? After all, the Police Association is allowing all of its members to participate via an electronic vote. Further, according to the Conditions of Employment and Code of Conduct for officers of the Civil Service, the government recognises the BPSU as the sole bargaining agent in respect of officers of the Civil Service. With this in mind, why did the BPSU assistant general secretary, Orin Simmons single out a senior Customs Officer and ask him to leave and then escort him out of the emergency meeting regarding the wage cut and pension freeze proposal? The coworker with whom he arrived at the meeting with was allowed to remain in the meeting but left on his own accord shortly after his supervisor was escorted out.

This proposal affects all Civil Servants, not just union members. Mr Simmons’ actions simply remind me of how petty and vindictive certain members of the BPSU truly are. The BPSU failed in their so-called representation of the same officer during his 25 plus years as a BPSU member, and the general secretary can attest to this. The union representatives should focus on doing what’s right, rather than wasting time, money and energy defending wrong. Too often the BPSU has disregarded facts which were promised to members. Referring to the “Important facts about the BPSU”. obtained from their website, one fact states: “That we will represent you if you have been overlooked for a promotion.” Another fact states: “That as a member of the BPSU, you are entitled to representation at termination of employment or dismissal”. Why has this union ignored these facts in the past? Should we expect more from a union which was established as an association by senior Civil Servants who were galvanised to seek improvements with their own terms and conditions of employment? If the rights of Government workers are not protected by their sole bargaining agent, what’s the purpose of having union representation?

According to the BPSU, it is an employee’s legal right under Section 10 of the Constitution of Bermuda and Section 30 of the Trade Union Act of 1965 to join or support ‘a’ union, yet Civil Servants can’t choose which union. They can, however, donate the equivalent of union fees to a charity of their choice if they don’t wish to be union members. After perusing the Pension Handbook for Government of Bermuda Employees, I took note of Section 4.1 which states: “Service qualifying for a pension is the period during which an employee is employed by the Government of Bermuda, and contributions have been deducted from one’s salary or wage.”

On that note, in my view, this proposal regarding the pensions should not be possible as the government employees will remain employed and deductions with continue. What the Government intends to do with the deductions is irrelevant. The Police Association appears to be the most sensible of the unions as the others have already agreed in principle to government’s proposal. Would these unions have been as willing to cooperate with the government had it been one other than the current labour government? I can understand why Civil Servants are docile; however, my question is … what has become of some of these union representatives?



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Published March 15, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 15, 2012 at 10:06 am)

Represent the workers

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