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Dispute settled at docks

Three days' advance notice has been agreed for future industrial action at the docks after a dispute over a dismissed worker was settled with management.

The resolution was announced yesterday by Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, six months after port workers downed tools over the termination of a longstanding employee.

The division “accepts the fact that this situation could have been handled differently before they downed tools, so they apologise for that action”, Mr Furbert said.

Workers in October had unloaded essential items from ships, but left non-essential cargo on board, after Antoine Tacklyn, an assistant superintendent, was let go after 27 years with Stevedoring Services.

Mr Tacklyn's position was not covered under the collective bargaining agreement with the BIU, but Mr Furbert cited the close relationship developed with staff over 25 years before his promotion.

Workers felt the termination was “unfair, while recognising that there had been some shortcomings in him fulfilling his management responsibilities”, the president added.

Mr Tacklyn “should have been offered another position”, Mr Furbert said — “something they have done in the past on at least two occasions”.

The issue, which had been about to head to arbitration, heated up when port workers suspended overtime on April 5 — but that dispute was lifted last Friday, Mr Furbert said.

At a preliminary hearing two weeks ago, the arbitration panel “suggested that the parties might want to have a discussion”, the BIU head added.

Mr Tacklyn has been offered the more junior position of holdman at the docks, and will retain his seniority as it relates to benefits, as well as getting paid for eight weeks out of the 27 since the dispute began.

Workers “understand that management have the right to have who they want on the management team”, Mr Furbert said.

Warren Jones, chief executive of Polaris Holding Company, told The Royal Gazette: “We're very pleased to have come to a resolution which will determine how we manage disputes in our relationship going forward.”

Mr Tacklyn, who had not previously been named, was reported in October to have begun working at the docks in 1990, and promoted to management in 2015.

Agreed deal: Chris Furbert, left, president of the Bermuda Industrial Union and Tracy Bean, vice president of the port workers division (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

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Published May 02, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated May 02, 2018 at 7:16 am)

Dispute settled at docks

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