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Belco plan halted by workers’ march

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Belco management has agreed to put on hold its pension plan discussions that yesterday sparked a protest by workers.

Scores of Belco employees marched through Hamilton over proposed changes to their pension plans and later gathered outside the utility company's headquarters on Serpentine Road. “Management has acquiesced to our request,” a representative of the Electrical Supply Trade Union (ESTU) told the crowd at about 6pm.

He added that no changes will be made until management has sat down with the union.

Union president Ray Bean said: “Management have agreed to put a stay on this.”

He added that management should have consulted with the union in good faith rather than making a decision “on their own” that impacted their members.

“Protocol starts in the beginning,” he said. “We shouldn't have been here tonight.” Both representatives thanked the Belco workers for their support.

Mr Bean added that the members of the union work with pride around the clock and will now go back to what they do best with the understanding that the union will not stand down on this matter.

At a meeting at Bermuda Industrial Union yesterday afternoon, workers voted to stay off the job until management addresses their concerns.

More than 100 staff members walked to the electricity company's headquarters. At about 4pm, a number of representatives went in to speak with management, while the remaining members stood outside. Mr Bean told The Royal Gazette that management had upset the ranks by making unilateral changes to a number of the workers' medical benefits.

Workers claimed some benefit changes were made as recently as Monday with no consultation.

Mr Bean said: “We're here because Belco desires to cut costs even while making a profit. We're here now because of benefits they have unilaterally rolled back with no consultation and discussion.”

A Belco spokeswoman said yesterday evening: “The matter has been referred to the Department of Workforce Development. Management and the ESTU have agreed to meet to discuss the issue.”

Belco staff walk along Serpentine Road after a meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Belco staff walk along Serpentine Road (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Belco workers awaiting management outside headquarters (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

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Published November 26, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated November 26, 2015 at 8:52 am)

Belco plan halted by workers’ march

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