THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1: Hamilton Docks would have “ground to a halt” if workers had not agreed to lift their overtime ban.
A combination of mounting container stacks at the docks, the Labour Day holiday and an incoming hurricane that will disrupt shipping schedules would have pushed the Docks to their limit.
But this afternoon the Bermuda Industrial Union announced its members would go back to working over time and would also work on the Labour Day holiday “in the interests of the country”.
The dispute between Stevedoring Services Ltd and the BIU, which involves workers’ hours, will now go to an arbitration tribunal.
Chris Furbert, BIU president, said the Stevedore workers would continue to work overtime until the end of the arbitration process.
He said: “Stevedoring Services will rescind their proposal for layoffs until the conclusion of the arbitration process.
“And in addition the men have agreed — in the interest of the country — the overtime suspension they had in place, they will lift that until the end of the arbitration process to allow some form of normality to take place.”
He added: “We had a special request from one of our agents to work the Labour Day holiday.
“We put that to the men and they have agreed in light of the hurricane that is coming towards Bermuda.
“This shows that when it comes to emergencies the members will step up.”
Peter Aldrich, general manager of Stevedoring Services told the Bermuda Sun: “The dock would have ground to a halt in a week or two. The closure would have been inevitable. In light of the impending hurricane threat we are pleased that we at least have a temporary resolution.
“We would like to thank all parties who have assisted in this solution which is in the best interest of the country.”
Shipping agents last night welcomed the move to lift the overtime ban.
Joe Simas, general manager of Meyer Freight told the Bermuda Sun: “We were pleased to hear of the overtime ban being lifted.
“We currently have the Somers Isles in port with the Bermuda Islander arriving today.
“With the overtime ban lifted we can have both vessels leave this weekend, Somers Isles this morning and the Bermuda Islander on September 3. Both ships will be loaded with the maximum amount of empty containers.
“If the ban was not lifted both ships would have been in a bind to depart this weekend with the possibility of one staying over the weekend.
“We’d like to thank all parties involved.”
Geoffrey Frith, president of Bermuda Container Lines, welcomed the move.
He said: “We are very pleased to see that it has been lifted and we are hopeful that the parties will keep working until the arbitration tribunal takes place.
“Certainly there would have been a backlog this weekend and into the next week if it had not been lifted.
“And with a hurricane in the Atlantic that will certainly affect the shipping routes and maybe even Bermuda it is important that the ships can be worked and turned around as quickly as possible. It is obviously a positive development.”
Kim Wilson, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said: “I am pleased that an interim solution has been found concerning the current industrial unrest at the Docks.
“The matter has been referred to a tribunal and all other matters outstanding will be determined by the Tribunal.”