BIU threatens general meeting over sacked workers
Bermuda Industrial Union leaders have threatened to hold a general meeting of all members if a private company which sacked seven workers doesn't reinstate them.
BIU president Chris Furbert told a press conference yesterday he couldn't predict what action his members would take if Renaissance Aviation didn't comply with several demands within 24 hours.
The demands were drawn up at a special general council meeting of the BIU which took place at lunchtime yesterday.
Mr Furbert said those attending the hour-and-a-half long session were “very concerned about their brothers and their sisters in light of seven of them being fired”.
He added: “They are requesting that as of today, giving 24 hours notice, that the seven dismissed workers need to be reinstated immediately without any loss of benefit.”
He said another 12 or so workers made redundant in January should be given first refusal on any vacancies at the company, which has said it needs to cut costs because it is struggling in the current economic climate.
Mr Furbert repeated a claim he made on Friday that the airport services company, part-owned by local footballing legend Shaun Goater, was guilty of union-busting and said the decision to get rid of all the workers after they tried to get union recognition “should speak for itself”.
He said general council members were further demanding Renaissance sit down with the BIU over the next five days to discuss bargaining categories for unionised workers.
Mr Furbert revealed Renaissance made an offer yesterday, through Bermuda Employers' Council, to let the seven terminated workers reapply for their jobs. But he said that would result in a loss of benefits for them and wasn't good enough.
Renaissance has vehemently denied claims it sacked the seven workers last week because they tried to get organised.
The company said in a statement on Friday that the staff members were terminated because they refused to agree to a necessary ten percent pay cut; a pay cut the union advised its members to accept.
“We are very concerned about the misrepresentation of this issue by the BIU, as we gave this small group of staff every opportunity to agree to the required pay reduction.
“These attempts included meeting with the BIU, though they are not currently representatives of our staff.”
The company added: “We have absolutely no objection to union representation of our staff.”
Mr Furbert said yesterday the dispute had got “way out of hand” but he was confident it could be resolved.
He insisted a general membership meeting would be called this week if the company didn't acquiesce but would not speculate on what the outcome was likely to be.
Asked about yesterday's demands, Martin Law, from the Employers' Council, said: “I have no comment to make on that right now.”
It wasn't possible to reach anyone at Renaissance Aviation last night or to get comment from Trade Minister Kim Wilson.