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Public schools to stay closed today

All public schools will remain closed today due to the continuing deadlock between the Government and the unions over furlough days.

Meanwhile bus and ferry services have also been suspended until midday when a further announcement is expected to be made by the Ministry of Transport.

Government and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress have failed to reach any agreement on the future of the cost cutting measure, which has prompted three days of industrial action and extensive disruption to public services.

Last night a Government spokesman said the Ministry of Education was “erring on the side of caution” by closing all public schools,

“In the interest of the safety and security of our students, all public schools will be closed tomorrow Wednesday January 28th, in anticipation of further industrial action,” said the spokesman.

“The Ministry of Education was informed by the General Secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, Mike Charles, that the BUT has asked its members to meet at the Cabinet Office tomorrow at 9am.

“Additionally, the Ministry further understands that the public transportation system will not be in operation. As such, the Ministry of Education is erring on the side of caution, in making a decision to close public schools.

“This week school registration commenced for the 2015/16 school year, however, the Ministry would like to assure all parents that the registration deadline will be extended as a result of schools closing.”

Yesterday the ongoing industrial action, which saw thousands of union members descend on Cabinet Office to protest, had far-reaching consequences across the island.

All public bus and ferry services were suspended as a result of the union action and the Central Terminal bus ticket office in Hamilton remained closed.

Licensing and registration services at the Transport Control Department were not available and trash collection across the island was severely impacted.

Government urged the public to take household waste, recycling and bulky items to the Tynes Bay public drop-off while the industrial action continued.

The ongoing dispute over furlough days also affected landscaping maintenance to the island’s parks and Government properties.

•Reporting by Owain Johnston-Barnes and Simon Jones