Well done to BIU for starting the conversation
Let me offer a qualified commendation to the Bermuda Industrial Union for its two-page presentation in The Royal Gazette on Tuesday, headlined “Bermuda High Cost of Living (compared to Switzerland, Norway, Ireland and Bahamas)”.
To be clear, I’m not yet supporting the conclusions of the well-documented offering, but praising the openness in the approach that the union is making to this vital but complex matter.
In that regard, the BIU sums up its presentation – demonstrating visionary leadership – with an invitation: through a series of town hall meetings, we would like to engage in dialogue with the people of Bermuda to discuss how together we can come up with a real long-term strategy to make Bermuda more affordable.
Those words reflect the best of our shared legacy in Bermuda, demonstrating a spirit that is inclusive and one which captures the essence of true democracy. In the 1940s, the Bermuda Workers Association — the forerunner to the BIU — engaged our society, which then was very regressive, in dialogue with the goal to make Bermuda democratic. Through a series of island-wide meetings, awareness was enhanced, providing an invaluable foundation for the social progress which today we may take for granted.
Likewise in 1960, following on from the Theatre Boycott, the specific matter of the right to vote was addressed by the Committee for Universal Adult Suffrage. This group, chaired by Roosevelt Brown (Pauulu Kamarakafego) along with members of the Progressive Group and others, set up a series of meetings and invited diverse dialogue on this key matter. The momentum created leveraged the right of every adult — not just land-holders — to vote in general elections as of 1968.
Today’s challenges are more nuanced than those experienced prior. It just may be that the BIU is drawing from a template that has demonstrated effectiveness over the better part of a century, a process in which it has participated. The International Labour Organisation, which predates the United Nations, has been making use of a tripartite format for many decades, which is based on dialogue that requires input from government, union/workers and business/employers.
Whether or not this is the case, let me again offer applause to the BIU for suggesting a framework, offering background data and inviting the people of Bermuda to share dialogue, promoting the win-win idea of a sustainable community.
• Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda