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Union decertification law goes to Senate today

Jason Hayward, the labour minister (File photograph)

Controversial trade union legislation that sparked a firestorm of opposition from unions will face its final debate in the Senate today.

But Jason Hayward, the labour minister, signalled that unions had softened their stance after they condemned legislation designed to give non-union members a vote on union decertification in workplaces.

The Bermuda Union of Teachers backed the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, the Bermuda Industrial Union and the Bermuda Public Services Union in opposition to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act.

Mr Hayward said last week that the BTUC issued a statement on the Bill “a few days too late” – after the minister met with the group to discuss their concerns.

Mr Hayward said the two sides had “come to a common understanding on the interpretation of the legislation”.

He added: “We agreed on a process on how we will proceed going forward.”

The news came after Chris Furbert, the BIU president, said earlier this month that union members would decide their own response after the executive claimed the legislation put them at “a big disadvantage” and signalled there could be widespread industrial action.

Mr Furbert highlighted mass walkouts by the civil service in 2015, which resulted in days of demonstrations outside the Cabinet Office.

The protests came after the One Bermuda Alliance said it wanted to extend furlough days for civil servants for another year as a cost-cutting measure.

The House of Assembly approved the Bill on December 11 and MPs from both sides backed changes to trades union legislation.

Dwight Jackson, the BTUC general secretary, later agreed that the move to amalgamate labour law into one piece of legislation fitted with “best practice”.

Mr Jackson said: “The Labour Law Reform Committee consideration to codify all Bermuda's labour laws into one piece of legislation is best practice.”

But Mr Jackson stood firm with the other unions on decertification,

He warned the BTUC would fight “any proposal or legislation that impedes on unionism”.

Mr Hayward, Mr Jackson and the BPSU did not respond to a request for comment.

Chris Furbert, the president of the BIU, could not be contacted for comment.

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Published December 21, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated December 20, 2020 at 9:29 pm)

Union decertification law goes to Senate today

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