Opposition parties urge a resolution in BIU/Renaissance Aviation dispute
Opposition MPs last night urged Bermuda Industrial Union and Renaissance Aviation to resolve a dispute about seven sacked workers.
Shadow Attorney General Trevor Moniz said the “spectre of irresponsible action” was looming over the public after the BIU threatened a general strike over a fired bus driver last month, forcing Government to reinstate the man or face massive disruption of services.
The union's latest row is with Renaissance, a private company which provides aircraft cleaning and other services at LF Wade International Airport and is part-owned by local footballing legend Shaun Goater.
The company made about 12 workers redundant in January and sacked another seven last week, the latter after they refused to take a ten percent pay cut. BIU president Chris Furbert claimed on Friday that the employees were terminated because they joined the union and were seeking union recognition, a claim of “union busting” strongly refuted by Renaissance.
On Monday afternoon, the BIU gave the firm 24 hours to comply with several demands, including to give the sacked employees their jobs back.
Mr Furbert warned a general membership meeting would be called this week if Renaissance failed to comply, prompting speculation of a possible strike or other industrial action.
Deputy Opposition Leader Mr Moniz said: “We hope that the parties will act responsibly and use their remedies at law and not any unlawful ways.
“We just encourage people to be responsible and use appropriate means of dispute settlement. Unfortunately, in the recent past we have had a wildcat strike that obviously upset people. Obviously, there is that sort of spectre of irresponsible action.”
Bermuda Democratic Alliance Leader Craig Cannonier said: “Whether or not it will lead to some kind of Island-wide action, we will all speculate on that but this is the process that they will have.
“We all recognise the times that we are living in. Hopefully, this does not mean that there will be a general strike [of BIU members]. I would hate to think that at this time something like that would happen.
“Certainly, the parties should be able to come to some kind of conclusion regarding this matter that would not have to result in a general strike.
“Hopefully, that's not the case. No one wins in a situation like that.”
Mr Furbert refused at a press conference on Monday to predict any likely outcome of a general membership meeting and would not give details of what options would be on the table.
“You are asking me to judge what the membership is going to say,” he said. “If you have ever paid attention in the last five years that I have been in this position, you [will know that you] won't get that answer now.”
He added: “The membership decides exactly what they are going to do.”
It wasn't possible to reach Mr Furbert or anyone else at the BIU yesterday afternoon to find out if the dispute had been resolved and Trade Minister Kim Wilson did not respond to several requests for comment.
Nick Faries, from Renaissance Aviation, said he was in a meeting and would get back to us when
The Royal Gazette called him. He didn't before press time last night.
Senator Wilson said on Friday that the Renaissance Aviation matter was being addressed by the Labour Relations office.