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Time to end the ‘Us versus Them’ narrative

Changing world: Labour Day is exploited and milked for political mileage, a reader says, adding that while the need for unions exists, militancy is outdated in this new millennium (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dear Sir,

When listening to the fiery oratory and the confrontational nature of the speeches that flowed unabated and without challenge on Labour Day, it could be easily said that the workers were not being told the true state of industrial relations in Bermuda.

The “Us versus Them” narrative was played with the skill of an accomplished violinist, the bad guys wore One Bermuda Alliance hats and the good guys wore every other hat of any description.

This was Labour Day being exploited and milked for all of the political mileage possible, never mind the aims and objectives of labour and collective bargaining in a world where unions do not enjoy the prominence and relevance they once did in a time of employer tyranny.

To say that the workers’ need for organised labour is a critical component for workers in a more advanced employer sensitivity is simply to be in denial of today’s reality.

The need for trade unions still exists but the militancy is outdated in this new millennium. We have smart bombs, smart cars, etc, you get the point. Unions that operate in today’s world with its changing norms will survive only by becoming smart.

These are the days of productivity and rewards by smart business who realise the relationship of profit to incentives by a workforce who clearly recognise what is in it for them.

Old-fashioned tyrants who want excess input for little reward is just bad for business and the bottom line. It is true, however, to say there are some relics of old thinking still around, particularly in lesser-developed countries.

In these days of laws being implemented to ensure fairness in labour relations and proper treatment for all of us, we must abide by the law at all times and not just when it suits us. Technology continues to advance at the speed of light that produces ways to reduce labour cost as machines and computers are deployed.

To balk at a changing world is the same as spitting at gale force winds coming right at you and being surprised when it comes right back in your face.

Wildcat work stoppages cannot and will not be tolerated by a demanding market that will respond by finding ways not to be held to ransom by a bullying and unreasonable workforce.

What do we hear on Labour Day? More of the same political rhetoric and endless racially divisive innuendo that does little to advance progressive labour with a view to the future and preparing oneself for promotion and greater earnings.

We have so many unskilled people in need of a job to work at the lower end of the wage scale and adding to the working poor.

These people need inspiration towards ambition and not tired, repetitive political grumbling that goes on daily. Attitude improvement, night courses, paying attention to world economic changes are a few examples of a way for labour to broaden its horizons for higher incomes.

Opportunities abound for people who will explore the world outside the box of OBA and Progressive Labour Party.

There are people in this country that will help you who are guest workers with connections that are not slaves to skin colour.

Getting back to the core focus being labour, it is not about the “Us versus Them” of management and workers, but getting along with strict adherence to the collective agreement and obeying the law for industrial peace and the wellbeing of the community.

Labour is very important in this country and should not be manipulated to advance any agenda — political, religious — or selfish and mean-spirited people looking to enrich themselves, management or trade unions.