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Protesters are sent back to work

Low turnout: BIU president Chris Furbert sends union members back to work (Photograph David Skinner )

They responded to the rallying cry and gathered for another day of protests, but by 9.15am they were sent back to work.

Between 150 and 200 people were at Union Square yesterday morning, with a podium set up and speakers playing gospel music, in anticipation of a demonstration against the One Bermuda Alliance’s plan to build a new airport.

However, BIU chief Chris Furbert — who had urged the country to show up to “stop police and the Bermuda Government” as key airport-related legislation finally reached Parliament — made the shock announcement that planned action had been called off.

Mr Furbert also lashed out at the public for their lack of support in trying to block the airport plans.

“I don’t blame the OBA government totally. I blame the people,” he said. “Because no matter how many times they do this we simply go and kick the can down the road. Why? Because they can’t afford to lose a day’s pay? News flash — with all the increases in the fees we are going to lose it anyway. It’s gone.”

He said that while union members have struggled and worked hard to benefit the people they could not bear the burden alone, adding that he would not send his people on a mission doomed for failure. There are a lot of people who are not going to be happy,” Mr Furbert said.

“We tried, we tried and we tried and that’s all we can do. We cannot ask the minority to carry the majority forward.”

While he said that general members of the public were free to demonstrate at the House, Mr Furbert urged all union members to return to work, saying that if they chose to stay and protest they would be on their own.

From midnight, police had been in place outside Sessions House, with sections barricaded to ensure MPs could get into the building. However, it emerged One Bermuda Alliance MPs had been inside five hours before the House was due to open, and barricades were eventually removed at about 10am.

“They have been there since 5am,” Mr Furbert told union members and supporters. “That’s to avoid being in confrontation with the people. Someone called me and told me that, so I made some phone calls and I confirmed that the OBA members are already in the House.

“What kind of Government is supposed to be leading the people’s business like that? What are they hiding?”

At 6am, the Government had warned public services could face disruption, but by late morning it announced buses and ferries were running as normal.

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