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A step in the right direction

With the super festive atmosphere from the annual Cup Match classic, slipping into the history books, this could be a good time to mention how this event brings our communities together, in way only exceeded by Christmas celebrations.

During these occasions when a spirit of goodwill seems to cross all barriers, it is easy to forget for a moment, the many challenges still confronting Bermuda, which remains in an economic crisis that has affected just about every household. Seeking solutions is an enormous challenge, even for those with expertise in the world of finance.

Trying to find the right balance in where and what to cut, is more complex than most people can imagine. That is simply because people need to be working in order for economic growth to occur, but during crunch times, trying to preserve jobs without causing a deeper slide into the economic abyss, requires a sense of reasoning between Union representatives, employers, and employees on a level never seen before.

The mere mention of wage cutting is enough to make most workers unhappy and angry, at having their earnings stripped away even with a 4.6% drop. However reality has a part to play, since even Unions are aware that in the present economic climate, it is better to have people working for a little less, rather than not working at all. At least such drastic action could in the long run, help to steady things until they improve.

The President of the Bermuda Industrial Union, Chris Furbert, who has had his share of criticism over the years, should be commended along with other Union officials for arriving at what must have been fierce negotiations with Government, aimed at keeping the labour and economic machinery in the public sector moving, despite difficulties for all parties.

Without question there are probably many factors still to be worked out in the agreement where public sector workers decided to accept a two year pay cut knowing that the arrangement was hammered out by both sides in the interest of keeping people on the job, which is essential for any growth in Bermuda. Not everyone was happy. Some union workers felt betrayed and expressed their feelings via the press.

B.I.U. President Mr. Furbert was quick to point out that the agreement was reached with membership participation, and that it would be proper for any disgruntled member to vent their sentiments with Union officials before going to the press. Even he is aware that there are always members who for various reasons disapprove of some agreements. That is a part of activities with most unions, hence the voting system.

Too often we are quick to criticise, and slow to give credit where credit is due. In our current situation we need to take a page out of the book of some of the allied bomber pilots in the Second World War as they tried to save an aircraft and the crew after being damaged over the war zone.

Many times the crew had to jettison guns and ammunition in order to keep their aircraft in the sky. The lesson here is that urgent situations usually require urgent action in order to make it through what otherwise would appear to be a hopeless dilemma.

Neither the Government or the Unions involved in the recent labour agreement have time to boast about who did what to bring about this meeting of the minds. What happened was indeed a step in the right direction for the working people of Bermuda.

Reality also dictates that there will undoubtedly be fresh labour problems from time to time. That is to be expected, but the recent agreement could help Government, union officials, employers and employees to work harder in seeking solutions that benefit all.

It is also important that sacrifice be shared by all, to prevent the workers from feeling as though they are carrying the brunt.

We have many economic problems, but they are not insurmountable as long as logic and reason are kept on the table of any negotiations.

Bermuda is full of promise, but it will take a great deal of dedication and commitment from our leaders, and everyone, to reach the higher ground of success.

That success can only be achieved with super team work, and every Bermudian should be on that team.

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Published August 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 04, 2013 at 4:53 pm)

A step in the right direction

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