City Hall rally marks Workers’ Day
The legacy of unions in the defence of workers was recognised at a rally outside City Hall, as May Day — or International Workers’ Day — was observed.
“The struggle for a better world continues,” said Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert, after greetings from all the member presidents of the Bermuda Trade Union Congress.
The traditional red flags of May Day decorated the lawns and a band from Dellwood Middle School provided music.
In a nod to the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr — whose daughter Dr Bernice King will address the Electricity Supply Trade Union’s 50th anniversary banquet tonight — Mr Furbert closed with a quote from the elder Dr King:
“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work’,” he said.
“It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labour unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone.
“Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights.
“We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”
Switching Bermuda’s Labour Day observance from the first Monday in September to May 1 has been called for on several occasions over recent years.
Unions took up the annual commemoration of May 1 in 2007. International Workers’ Day commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago — a peaceful workers’ demonstration that erupted into violence — but the month of May also resonates in Bermuda with the 1981 general strike, while began in April but culminated in early May.