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Austerity is not the answer, claims BPSU

Labour leaders warned against damaging austerity measures but advocated strong work ethics at yesterday’s May Day commemoration at City Hall.

Bermuda Public Services Union president Kevin Grant told those assembled that workers around the world “have had to experience the cruel and inhumane ramifications of austerity measures.”

He said Governments had come to realise that austerity measures had a detrimental impact on revenues and the quality of public services.

“At a time when there are concerns about education, health services and security — and these are but a few — now is not the time to implement initiatives that can jeopardise the quality of public services,” Mr Grant said.

“Quality public services is crucial to an economy’s revival — by providing public infrastructure, research, innovation and a strong and healthy workforce.”

He added: “In advocating for quality public services we realise that this cannot be a one-sided initiative.”

The BPSU supported the need for workers who are reliable, knowledgeable, responsive and empathetic.

Mr Grant announced that the BPSU will be running a quality public services campaign over the next two months.

He called on the audience to reject austerity, redundancies, privatisation and outsourcing in favour of collective bargaining, workers rights and quality public services.

President of the Bermuda Union of Teachers Keisha Douglas exhorted the audience not to forget the history of the labour movement.

“The sacrifices of so many people cannot be forgotten or we’ll end up fighting for those same gains all over again,” she said.

She also urged a commitment to excellence in education.

“We insist on a quality workforce — where we have teachers that are dedicated to bringing out the excellence of which our children are capable. In return we will strive for the best working conditions for our members.”

Representing the Electricity Supply Trade Union, Maynard Dill said: “Today, using the pretext of economic and financial crisis, neoliberal forces around the world are determined to eliminate workers rights to bargain collectively and hard won social labour rights.

“Workers in our community are united to turn back the wave of measures being used to increase privatisation, claw back public spending, reduce the size and role of the state and to attack social dialogue and collective bargaining in the public and private sectors.

“We as trade unions will continue to fight to ensure this does not occur.”

Mr Dill said he did not believe much progress had been made since the founding of the International Labour Organisation in 1919.

BPSU president Kevin Grant. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published May 02, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 01, 2013 at 8:43 pm)

Austerity is not the answer, claims BPSU

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