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Burt upset over transport workers dispute

Public servants have been warned that they will not be paid if they fail to report to work during the Covid-19 crisis after the Premier expressed his disappointment at transport workers who withdrew their labour.

David Burt said that minibus operators will instead be asked to provide transport for healthcare employees.

He said that money docked from those who have downed tools will go towards fees for the stand-in service.

Mr Burt told a press conference yesterday evening: “To ensure healthcare workers can get to and from work in the absence of the Department of Public Transportation service, as workers at the Department of Public Transportation have withdrawn their labour, minibuses will be invited to bid to provide the service at a reasonable fee for service.

“I am extremely disappointed with this development from the staff at the Department of Public Transportation and this afternoon I sent a letter to public officers, reminding them that they must move beyond the barriers of their job in order to provide service to the people of Bermuda as they are public officers.

“We will each be called upon and asked to work in a different capacity to keep the country running.

“It is only together that we will be able to come through this unprecedented global pandemic stronger.”

He added: “I have also made sure that it is made clear from the Cabinet, and the Cabinet has full support, that public officers that do not wish to report to work will not be paid for the time in which they are absent, and that money will be used to fund the minibus service.”

A special bus service for hospital workers was arranged after the Bermuda Hospitals Board asked for assistance from the Emergency Measures Organisation in the wake of a shutdown of public transport.

However, union bus operators were said to be “up in arms” over the DPT's request to transport frontline medical staff to and from the hospital.

It was understood that they felt that the Government had halted public transport to ensure public safety, but now wanted to put them back at risk from the contagious virus.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the DPT said earlier that the temporary schedule would service routes 1, 3, 6, 7, 8 and 11 every day and would continue until normal bus services were restored.

The spokesman added that Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers would ensure that only hospital staff used the service and that social-distancing guidelines were followed.

In an open letter to public officers, Mr Burt wrote today: “We all have an important role to play during this global pandemic and the public service is our first line of defence to ensure Bermuda continues to function as normally as possible during these uncertain times.

“Many public officers are working from home. Others are standing by awaiting instructions on how they can assist.

“All of us as public officers have a duty to the people of Bermuda. With that comes great responsibility.

“I am eternally grateful to those in essential services who are on the frontline. And today I am seeking the support of all public officers to make themselves available as required.”

The Premier said it was time for public servants to “rise to the occasion”.

He wrote: “We must move beyond the barriers of our jobs and our offices and truly deliver for Bermuda.

“We must make every effort to ensure those who need the services provided by Government can receive them.

“I challenge each and every public officer to respond favourably when called upon to assist during this period of uncertainty.”

Mr Burt said that tasks included “essential and critical services” but other jobs were in employees' normal duties.

He added: “Some public officers will be asked to fill roles which may not be traditional, but are required to keep Bermuda safe during this global pandemic.

“Our country needs you now more than ever.

“I truly appreciate all the effort by everyone who is helping to make a difference.

“We will get through this together.”

To read the full letter from David Burt to all public officers, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

David Burt, the Premier (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published March 31, 2020 at 8:03 pm (Updated April 01, 2020 at 12:10 pm)

Burt upset over transport workers dispute

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