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Government should follow lead of union boss and admit its mistakes Swan

United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan has urged Government to follow the example of union leader Maynard Dill in owning up to its mistakes.The Royal Gazette.

Mr Dill, the Trade Union Congress past president, had conceded unions reaped “dire consequences” for the Island by winning inflated pay increases for workers in years gone by.

He said this lifted wages to an unsustainable level and encouraged a culture of complacency among workers which has damaged the economy.

Mr Swan said Government should show similar honesty and allow open dialogue on the role he says it's played in Bermuda's financial troubles.

“Mr Dill's straight talk is a bitter pill but it was made within a forum suited for honest dialogue between union colleagues; in addition, in it are also messages for Government in particular to heed as well,” Mr Swan told

“The Government has been a huge offender in the problems that Bermuda face and Government have been slow to lead by the example.

“The boom period was not capitalised on and savings were not realised or sufficiently encouraged in the midst of higher wages, greater earnings, higher proceeds particularly in the Government sector.”

Mr Dill made his comments during Bermuda Public Services Union's fourth triennial delegates' conference earlier this month.

He said unions had been guilty of naive mistakes and a lack of understanding of economics as they fought for social justice for workers.

Inflated wages are a precursor to unemployment and a decrease in GDP growth, he said, and workers should have instead been urged to train and develop.

Mr Swan said better training would have enabled workers to cope when jobs became more scarce due to the downturn.

And he said the Opposition had previously expressed concern over deals such as the ProActive performance bond, which he said compromised the union and cost taxpayers cash.

But he praised Mr Dill's frankness, saying: “This is the time for leaders of unions and professional associations to not only reflect on the past to ensure workers are better prepared in the future, but also lead them forward in a spirit that will sustain them during uncertain times and economic volatility.”

He said Bermuda Industrial Union had shown good leadership by encouraging their members to accept wage freezes to protect job security two years ago.

“That was leadership by example ahead of the big disaster and leadership that was not shown or heeded by Government,” he said.

Shadow Labour Minister Michael Dunkley said of Mr Dill's comments: “It is comforting to see that during these tough times we are witnessing some straight talk which is always beneficial for the community.

“There is no doubt that through the years we have made significant progress and unions have played a valuable role on the labour front in their efforts to get a fair deal for workers.

“However, as we live in a world where change is a constant fact of life we must have a vision that allows us to stay relevant in what we do; if not we become less competitive and we all suffer.

“Unfortunately we often need a setback to allow the type of critical thinking required on a daily basis. Now that we seem focused I hope that we will see the fruits of this critical analysis.”

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Published March 28, 2011 at 10:24 am (Updated March 28, 2011 at 10:24 am)

Government should follow lead of union boss and admit its mistakes Swan

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