Taxpayers ‘stiffed out of millions’
In the days leading up to the Labour Day celebrations, Bermuda Industrial Union employee Laverne Furbert made a stunning admission in the comments section of a local news website.
In response to a commentator who said that in 2009 the Government of the day had forgiven the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) $15 million related to the Berkeley performance bond in exchange for the BIU agreeing to not engage in wildcat strikes, Ms Furbert replied: “... you are correct, the BIU (not all unions) made a ‘deal' with former Premier Dr Brown which in essence said before we take any industrial action we'll have a conversation with you first. Dr Brown is no longer the Premier.”
This is contrary to a Government press release at the time which said: “The agreement made between the Bermuda Government and the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) on May 14, 2009 called for the BIU to give up to 72 hours notice of a strike in return for the Government forgiving Union Assets Holding's obligation to pay $6.8 million owed under a performance bond due when the Berkeley school project failed.”
So Ms Furbert has provided the real story – taxpayers were stiffed out of millions of dollars through a deal made between one man (former Premier Brown) and the BIU. As an aside, the deal clearly wasn't honoured as wildcat strikes continued with bus drivers, ferry operators and others downing tools without notice.
I can think of several million reasons why the unions should stop their theatrical threats and radical rhetoric about “shutting the island down” and work with the Government to get Bermuda's economy back on track.
After all, it's the members of the BIU who either stand to benefit from a growing economy or face further economic hardship if the Island is “shut down”.