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Govt to amend labour laws as overtime ban continues

Dockworkers will continue with their overtime ban at Hamilton Docks with the Bermuda Industrial Union playing down the disruption being caused.

BIU president Chris Furbert today said that the union was not backing down so the two-week overtime ban would continue.

He told a press conference that discussions had continued to take place between the union, bosses at Stevedoring Services and Government, but an agreement had not been reached.

Government announced last week that they were referring the docks dispute to arbitration, but Mr Furbert insists: “We've never agreed to arbitration.”

Mr Furbert said he was not against the hours of workers being reduced, but he wants to see the re-introduction of container royalties to boost incomes. This would see workers being paid money depending on the weight of the vehicles being brought through the docks.

The dispute centres around the BIU and bosses at Stevedoring Services failing to reach an agreement on how to eradicate the “non-productive time” of workers due to the reduction in cargo volume.

Since August 10 workers have only been working 37.5-hour weeks and refusing to offload any shipping containers during evenings and weekends.

This prompted widespread concerns from wholesalers about a backlog of containers waiting to be offloaded and stripped on the dock and ships setting sail with Bermuda freight still on board as they kept to their strict sailing schedules.

But Mr Furbert denied there had been any lengthy delays, saying all containers had been offloaded in a timely fashion.

He said: “We are going to continue with the overtime ban until we find a way forward.

“All the complaints about delays in containers being unloaded have been unfair to the dock workers. The public should know the facts.

“All of a sudden everyone is jumping out their shoes and trying to find fault with everything.

“I think the inconvenience has been totally exaggerated”.

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Kim Wilson said Government is now reviewing legislation to update the 1975 Labour Relations Act.

She said in a statement issued this evening: "As the public is aware, pursuant to section 3 (1) of the Labour Relations Act 1975, notice was received from Stevedoring Services Ltd indicating that a labour dispute exists. A labour relations officer is currently engaged in mediating the issue with the relevant parties. It is my sincere hope that a timely resolution will be achieved."

And Sen Wilson continued: "In order for legislation to remain current and relevant, ongoing review is required to determine the need for amendments. That said, the Ministry is currently reviewing a number of pieces of legislation which falls within our remit in preparation for the next legislative session."

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Published August 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Updated August 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm)

Govt to amend labour laws as overtime ban continues

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