BIU president Chris Furbert *File photo
BIU president Chris Furbert *File photo

BIU president Chris Furbert claims his union’s relationship with the OBA is “broken” following the tabling of a labour bill in the House of Assembly last Friday.

Mr Furbert spoke at a press conference this afternoon and said the government’s decision to table the Labour Relations Amendment Act 2014 to make transportation an essential service was “concerning”.

He plans to meet with union members tomorrow morning and as a result, there will be a disruption of public transportation between 11am and 1pm.

Speaking about the BIU’s relationship with the government, Mr Furbert said: “I think the challenges that we have today with the proposed changes to the legislation and I am putting it out there but I can say that the relationship that we were building with the OBA government, particularly with the Minister of Home Affairs, is broken.

“The level of trust is not there with me anymore. I had a conversation with him about the essential services and he could have told me about it then.”

Mr Furbert said he didn’t know the bill was going to be tabled until Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy’s permanent secretary notified him.

“I don’t work like that. If he has a different agenda, I’m not feeling it,” he said.

Mr Furbert said the proposed changes would affect workers from Marine and Ports and bus drivers.

“I want to make the BIU’s position crystal clear. We had a conversation with the minister about making the buses an essential service.

“It did come as a surprise to me to know that the bill was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday.

“I got an email from his permanent secretary that the bill was tabled.”

Mr Furbert said during the conversation he had with Mr Fahy before the bill was tabled, he told him the union would consider the buses being an essential service.

He also said while in The Royal Gazette, Mr Fahy is quoted as saying the subject is “something that has been considered”, because it’s already been tabled, he expects it will pass.

Mr Furbert alleged according to the International Labour Organisation, which is made up of unions and governments around the world, public transportation is not an essential service.

He also said that the bill has caused concern in the union, and as a result, a meeting will be held tomorrow.

Mr Furbert said he wasn’t “downplaying” anything to do with public transportation and added: “We need to be careful of how we look at areas with essential services and that the essential services isn’t abused.”