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BIU work to rule torpedoes cruise ship visit to St George’s

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The Viking Orion enters Hamilton yesterday. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Kristin White, owner of Long Story Short in St George’s (File photograph)
Geza Wolf, manager of Wahoo's Bistro and Patio in St George’s (File photograph)
The Viking Orion (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Viking Orion has cancelled a two-day visit to St George’s after a union work to rule meant a tender was not available to ferry passengers to shore.

The cruise ship had planned to visit the town on Friday and Saturday with a tender, provided by the Government, scheduled to transport passengers from Murray’s Anchorage.

But the Viking Orion will now travel to Heritage Wharf in Dockyard after the Bermuda Industrial Union work to rule was launched in a battle with the Government over union decertification votes in workplaces.

Joe Simas, the vice president of marine operations at Meyer Agencies, the agent for the Viking Orion, said: “We made alternative plans because of the work to rule action.

“The ship will now call into Heritage Wharf on Friday and Saturday instead of St George’s.”

The news was a major blow to East End traders who had anticipated an economic boost from the ship’s visit.

Dennie O’Connor, the co-owner of the area’s Tobacco Bay beach bar, said: “The east is always overlooked and usually the first to get the short end of the stick.

“We will all lose thousands, lay offs will continue, and people will continue to struggle.

“Just last week, food costs skyrocketed and now we are being punished because people can’t play nice and come to an agreement.”

Mr O’Connor, who emphasised he was speaking in a personal capacity, added: “Tourism is our life and all we want to do is service and highlight the best of what Bermuda has to offer – its hospitality.

“Instead, we are getting slapped around left and right. One blow after another.”

Mr O’Connor said The White Horse bar in St George and Tobacco Bay had booked live entertainment for Saturday and Father’s Day and taken on extra staff.

He asked: “We are all for fighting for what is right, but why do the people on vacation and business owners fighting to survive have to be inconvenienced?

“At a time where we should be bolstering our tourism economy, I am utterly speechless at this decision.

“It will undoubtedly create a huge loss for the entire East End.

“As a businessman with three businesses in the east, I am appalled at the way things have turned out and I can only hope and pray that all businesses in St. George’s again survive this drastic blow.”

Mr O’Connor said if businesses could have afforded it, they would have hired a private sector tender.

He added: “Bermuda is our world and if every restaurant decided to shut down together every time we didn’t agree, there would be very little Bermuda.”

George Dowling III, the Mayor of St George’s, said the cancellation was “unfortunate” and that the Olde Towne would feel the impact the most.

He added: “The demographic of ship passengers is geared to St George as a Unesco World Heritage site.

“This is also untimely as we are attempting to kick start our economic recovery from the pandemic.

“The knock-on effect is huge – I assume vendors providing excursions will also suffer as many of the afternoon experiences will be cut short or cancelled.”

Geza Wolf, a partner at Wahoo's restaurant on Water Street in St George, said the cancellation was a “huge disappointment”.

He added: “Everybody looks forward to having tourists and we need them badly.

“We need a good union but you can’t shut everything down – especially after one and a half years without decent business.

“We have been losing business and now it starting back up, this happens. It is sad. I don’t even know what to say.

“We need the business, all of St George’s needs it, all of Bermuda.”

Mr Wolf asked: “And what does this do for our reputation? What kind of message does it send to America?”

Kristin White, the owner of St George’s store Long Story Short, said: “I am disappointed. However, I support the unions and their right to protest. I’m hopeful that it will be resolved.”

The Government did not respond to a request for comment last night.

The work to rule, which includes an overtime ban, is also expected to disrupt bus and ferry schedules.

The industrial action will be reviewed by the BIU executive on Friday.

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Published June 16, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated June 16, 2021 at 2:05 pm)

BIU work to rule torpedoes cruise ship visit to St George’s

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