Senators pay tribute to Dr Ball
Cabinet Ministers David Burch and Kim Wilson yesterday paid tribute in the Senate to a former MP and “lady of labour” who died on Sunday.
Senator Burch described union activist Barbara Ball as a “fearless icon of this Country's labour movement” and a woman whose life could best be summed up as a “study in sacrifice and a triumph of right over might”.
The National Security Minister told the Upper Chamber: “The unlikely trail blazed by this graduate of the Bermuda High School for Girls is a colour-blind example of a career dedicated to uplifting the unfortunate and championing the rights of the voiceless. Thankfully, her story is preserved in the recent publication by her former running mate and union comrade, Mr Ottiwell Simmons.”
He said Dr Ball, who was 86, was a “white woman shunned by her own people, viewed suspiciously by people of colour and eventually branded a traitor for espousing the basic ideals of union representation and universal adult suffrage”.
He noted that when her privileges as a doctor were suspended at the hospital because of her labour activism, 6,000 people signed a petition on her behalf and “not at the click of a mouse”.
The Minister said when Dr Ball was made an OBE in 2000, she insisted on breaching protocol when the medal was pinned on her at Government House, by accepting it on behalf of all the Island's workers.
“This Government ensured that while she was alive, Dr Ball came to know the high esteem in which she was held and will continue to promote her story to our young people, who often need the context in support of what we refer to as the struggle.
“As the Island mourns her loss, it is no understatement that each of us, as we protest, march, voice our views vocally and in writing, do so in an atmosphere of freedom and strong democracy achieved through the efforts of a humble, fearless lady of labour.”
Senator Wilson, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said she was humbled to pay tribute to Dr Ball, who worked to promote social justice and bring an end to inequity, discrimination and unfair labour practices for Bermuda's working class.
Her activism, added the Minister, ultimately led to the passing of the landmark Trade Union Act in 1965, which allowed employees to gain union recognition in the workplace.
“I count it a privilege today to offer these few words in celebration of the life of Dr Barbara Ball, a woman who had the courage to live her life with purpose,” she said.
“Her legacy and contributions to the labour movement and women's rights has left an indelible mark on the history pages of Bermuda's social development.”
The Senate held a minute's silence for Dr Ball, whose funeral details have not yet been confirmed.