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TUC unions vow to ‘reinvent’ themselves

Most of Bermuda’s unions are pledging to reinvent themselves and work with employers as they warned: “It profits no one if we are constantly at war.”

Bermuda Trade Union Congress, which represents eight unions on the Island, stressed the importance of ensuring businesses provide adequate training for workers to meet the changing demands of the modern world.

“The new face of trade unions is one that encourages worker development, which enhances workforce sustainability,” said the BTUC in a press release.

“However, our encouragement of workers to become higher skilled and thus more flexible, demands that they also be treated with respect and not as a commodity that business controls and stymies.

“In this new challenging economy trade unions are required to ensure that employers get it right by focusing the training and development of workers, body, mind and soul, or the whole individual.

“This must be infused with a healthy work-life balance, in healthy, safe, and harmonious conditions.

“As such the current economic challenge is not an environment that is conducive to trade unions, unless we reinvent ourselves. This will represent a challenge for us, but the Congress believes that unions are an integral part of the success of Bermuda’s economy.

“We have the acumen and fortitude to partner with employers to create the competitive business model. One that has fair wage and benefit packages, lest we forget that the opposite of this will only profit employers in the short-term as poor working conditions and remuneration breeds poor performance.

“Who else to keep our employer partners on their toes? As we are and will be involved in a profitable relationship it profits no one if we are constantly at war.”

The BTUC represents includes Bermuda Public Services Union, Bermuda Fire Services Association, Police Officers Association, Prison Officers Association, Bermuda Union of Teachers, Bermuda Electrical Supply Trade Union, the Association of School Principals and the Bermuda Federation of Musicians and Variety Artists (BFMVA).

It does not include Bermuda Industrial Union, which has been involved in a string of disputes so far this summer.

Earlier this week, BTUC called for regular dialogue between unions, employers and Government to stave off union unrest.

The statement continued: “Notwithstanding the need for a redirection of trade union focus, it is also necessary for employers to change theirs and utilise all aspects of this new way of doing business, not just what is profitable but what is sustainable.”

It suggested throwing away the term ‘job descriptions’ and replacing it with a realistic performance criteria tied to a meaningful rewards and recognition programme.

“This will encourage better performance, and by default better results,” said the statement.

“The Congress will go so far as to suggest that we be involved at the policy invention stage, which is so often the catalyst to industrial strife, and are doomed to fail because of adverse effects on industrial relations, and employee and customer welfare.

“Yes unions are prepared to change but we will not compromise our ideals and philosophy. We must remember the freedoms that most enjoy today whether you are in management or on the shop floor were hard fought for and won by trade unions.

“With this said we only seek open and honest dialogue in a new industrial relationship, that is predicated on high ethical, moral, honest, and transparent business practices.”

Underlining the need for training, the statement also said businesses require employees to be flexible enough to change with the times.

“This cannot be realised if employees are not developed,” it stated.

“In Bermuda specifically there is very little emphasis placed on developing employees to ensure they are knowledgeable, not just about the product or service the business supplies, but they require timely and correct information in regard to the businesses strategic plan and must have input in this strategy. This gives them the buy-in necessary.

“Unlike our counterparts in other jurisdictions that predicate their success on a small nucleus of highly skilled and knowledgeable managers, the model in Bermuda is overtly top heavy, while the most important asset of the enterprise is constantly made redundant.”

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Published September 02, 2011 at 10:53 am (Updated September 02, 2011 at 10:52 am)

TUC unions vow to ‘reinvent’ themselves

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