Standing in solidarity with Bermuda’s workers
On May 1, the world celebrates International Workers' Day. We mark this day with a commitment to continuing to stand in solidarity with Bermuda’s workers.
In just one month, on June 1, the reforms we passed to the Employment Act take effect. This includes strengthening protection against sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace, requiring performance reviews during probationary periods so employees know where they need to improve and employers cannot take advantage of them, extending bereavement leave for the loss of great-grandparents, grandparents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and requiring that terminated employees receive their final payment promptly. Employees will also now be entitled to a minimum 30-minute meal break after working continuously for five hours.
Working with our partners in labour, we passed the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 2020, which streamlines and consolidates tribunals into one tribunal that will handle all employment and labour-related disputes. It also strengthens unions by making the agency-shop process automatic and mandating that agency workers should make at least a partial contribution to their union for bargaining on their behalf.
At the conclusion of the one-year austerity measures that were accepted by the various unions, the Progressive Labour Party government has agreed to restore public officers' salaries and benefits to their pre-pandemic levels. We thank the workers for their commitment and support during these times. We are also proud that in spite of the pandemic putting incredible strain on the budget, furlough days and layoffs were not implemented.
In recognition of our need to protect jobs for Bermudians during these unprecedented times, the PLP government added 41 more job categories to the closed category list for immigration — protecting your opportunities.
Further, the PLP government has committed to the implementation of unemployment insurance that will provide income protection for Bermudian workers who find themselves out of work. The Government has spent more than $60 million in unemployment benefits to support workers and their families since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We continue with our work to introduce a statutory minimum wage and a national living wage, which will increase the wages of workers, affording them a better quality of life.
Our plans for the future include implementing workforce equity legislation, reforming financial assistance and executing a youth employment strategy, putting Bermudians on the pathways to employment.
There are those in our community who seek to divide workers because they know that in our division lies their only pathway back to political power. When workers are united, workers are never defeated. The PLP will continue to stand in solidarity with workers, and in that solidarity we will continue to make progress for the workers of Bermuda as we have for the past year.
Happy International Workers’ Day from the PLP.
• Michael Weeks is a government backbencher and the MP for Pembroke East Central (Constituency 16)