Union speaks out on $54,000 Jeep
Union boss Kevin Grant has called for Government to set a better example than spending $54,000 taxpayers’ money on a Jeep Patriot with Bose surround sound system for a road sweeping manager.
The Bermuda Public Services Union president says his members have recently put Bermuda’s needs ahead of their own by accepting Government’s proposal for a pay cut.
Government must now do the same, said Mr Grant as he criticised the controversial purchase of the Jeep Patriot for the Public Works superintendent.
“What’s going on here? It’s kind of hard when we have this sort of thing thrown in our face,” Mr Grant told
The Royal Gazette.
“It puts me in a very difficult position when my members see this and start asking questions.
“You have got Government trying to talk about how they have got no money, telling us about wage cuts and everything, and asking us to cut our costs. And at the same time they are not setting a good example in terms of their own spending. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
“I haven’t heard any of the details about why they needed to buy this, except that they need a Jeep that’s able to take care of the pole saws. I’m wondering if that’s really a good justification for buying a Jeep like that.
“It seems a little elaborate for me and I’m sure my members feel the same way.”
The BPSU and most other unions on the Island have accepted Premier Paula Cox’s proposal to cut their wages, in tandem with a freeze in pension contributions.
“One of the things the union presidents came to realise and agree to, and to bring our members along with, was that we are all in this together,” said Mr Grant yesterday.
“There’s a combined effort. We can’t even look at getting benefit for our members now. The main focus we agreed to is to get this Country back on track.
“But the example must come from the top.”
The road sweeping superintendent’s responsibilities are said to include road clearing after natural disasters, oil spills and other debris.
Government says the Jeep was bought following a year-long search, with several other vehicles deemed inappropriate due to fears pole saws could be stolen from the back.
Angry union members contacted
The Royal Gazette saying the surround system and trimmings are an unnecessary luxury for such a job; readers on our website suggested the same model could have been bought without those features.
A Public Works spokesman responded by saying the Jeep Patriot cost the same as the Toyota Hi Lux which the Ministry also purchases, adding: “The stereo and leather trim was standard for that model.”
Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards, who has repeatedly criticised Government for overspending in a tough economical climate, said: “I have nothing much to add as the extravagance speaks for itself.
“However I wondered if they had considered those locking tool boxes that fit into the back of pickup trucks. Would those hold the saws?”
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