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BTUC pleased with ‘bold’ Throne Speech

John Rankin, the Governor, reads the Throne Speech (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The 2018 Throne Speech can be described as bold, attainable and transformative. It represented the true ethos of a labour government that is progressive, and provided the key elements required to tackle systemic societal inequalities head-on. It recognised that the economic progress and growth achieved in Bermuda has not been shared by all and inequality in Bermuda has been multi-dimensional and intractable. The Government is clearly making a concerted effort to assuage the divide by urgently addressing inequality.

Bermuda’s labour unions have been championing for policy initiatives such as:

• progressive taxation and tax reform;

• workforce and pay equity;

• extending employment beyond age 65;

• reducing healthcare cost;

• revising labour legislation;

• ensuring persons have access to tertiary education; and,

• implementing a living wage.

The Bermuda Trade Union Congress (BTUC) is pleased to see the inclusion of these policy initiatives in the Throne Speech as it underpins an agenda that is both progressive and people-centered. The effective implementation of these initiatives will assure Bermuda’s citizenry that their votes were not taken for granted when they voted for a change of Government last year.

The Throne Speech demonstrates the Government’s ability to not only listen to the voice of the people but to also translate these concerns into effective, transformative policies. The priorities outlined in the Throne Speech are reflective of a major shift from the neoliberal policies of the past to a balanced, people-focused agenda that is responsive to the needs of the people. Preventing and reducing inequality is a part of Government’s social contract with its people and through the Throne Speech, it is apparent the Government plans to address inequality in a clear and deliberate manner.

The renaming of the Allenhurst Building (the old Hamilton Police Station) after living labour legend, Bro. Ottiwell Simmons is a genuine embrace of the Government’s labour roots. This building will serve as a permanent marker and will ensure that we do not to forget our past and

those who fought tirelessly to ensure social and economic progress for the working-class people of Bermuda.

Overall, the initiatives presented in the Throne Speech will seek to improve the social wellbeing of Bermudians. The Government must continue to operate with humility and remain persistent in addressing the urgency of present concerns. The labour movement must continue to remain steadfast in its quest to achieve a better and fairer Bermuda.

Press release from Bermuda Trade Union Congress