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Ferry workers walk out

Ferry operators were heading back to work this morning following a meeting at Bermuda Industrial Union Headquarters after a walkout described by a Ministry of Transport spokesman as “unwarranted and an inconvenient”.

The first ferry was scheduled to leave Hamilton at noon.

According to Bermuda Industrial Union head Chris Furbert, workers at Marine and Ports downed tools “for a couple of hours this morning” under the belief that division head had been given a stage four warning — of suspension or dismissal — for his involvement in “an incident on the job”.

Mr Furbert said he'd spoken to the Director of Marine and Ports and learned that no final decision had been made.

“Once this was reported to the workers they returned to work,” Mr Furbert said, adding: “Additionally, the workers at Marine and Ports are concerned about the internal audit that is being carried out in their department. The Union has written to Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Derrick Binns, requesting an update.”

Division head Sinclair Samuels declined to comment.

The service was suspended early today.

Thousands of tourists are currently in Dockyard on two cruise ships, and many of them were left disgruntled by the inconvenience — as were local commuters.

The Ministry spokesman said “the work stoppage by Marine and Ports staff this morning was unwarranted and an inconvenient disruption for thousands of residents who depend on a reliable ferry service to get to work and to get their children to school and visitors who utilise this amenity to enhance their vacation experience.”

“The work stoppage relates to an ongoing disciplinary action against a member of Marine and Ports staff in relation to a very serious incident involving two Bermuda Industrial Union staff members.

“The disciplinary process and investigation is still ongoing and no decisions have been made on what disciplinary action will be taken.

“The decision to down tools this morning was entirely premature and there is no justification for doing so. Thousands of commuters and visitors, including the passengers on two ships in Dockyard, have been left inconvenienced by this wildcat strike. This is extremely damaging to Bermuda's reputation and these sorts of disruptions cannot be allowed to continue.”

The only service in operation was the Dockyard Orange Route — from Dockyard to St. George's using the privately-owned Millennium ferry.

A sign posted at the Hamilton Ferry Terminal following union action. Photo by Mark Tatem

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Published June 19, 2014 at 9:57 am (Updated June 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm)

Ferry workers walk out

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