An empty bus terminal as bus drivers are still on strike *Photo by Kageaki Smith

An empty bus terminal as bus drivers are still on strike *Photo by Kageaki Smith

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10: Strike action by bus drivers looked set to continue Friday — and possible extend to ferry workers — as the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) remained locked in a stand-off with Government.

Drivers began industrial action on Wednesday evening over the firing of a colleague for ‘gross misconduct’.
Today Chris Furbert, BIU president, tabled a proposal with Government to end the strike, but there was no official response at the time of going to press.

Louis Somner, BIU union organizer, said in a text message to a union colleague at 9pm Thursday: “The (bus) service will be shut down tomorrow [Friday] and there will be a meeting at 11am for Department of Public Transportation and Marine and Ports workers.”

Thursday afternoon Mr. Furbert described the day’s events as “extremely challenging”. He said Government had served papers on the BIU saying the matter must go to arbitration. Mr. Furbert said: “Once that takes place, all actions (industrial disputes) must cease and desist immediately.”

He said the union respected the arbitration process, but that, “it shouldn’t be used on every occasion… We believe the arbitration process right now is not necessary for this current situation.”

He told bus operators: “Your support and solidarity has been remarkable and as a result of that there are some things that are taking place.”

But he criticized Transport Minister Terry Lister’s lack of communication with the union.

Regarding the fired driver, Mr. Furbert told union members: “The operations manager was aware what was taking place and he allowed it to happen. That to me is a serious indictment against management."
 
Mr. Lister described the strike as “clearly illegal”.
Yesterday morning he said Government had filed a a Gazette Extraordinary to bring the strike to an end.
       
Mr. Lister said: With this Gazetting the law requires all industrial actions to cease until the final determination of the Tribunal (arbitration).
       
“The position of the Ministry of Transport is that the employee has been subject to a properly conducted disciplinary process and had been found to be guilty of gross misconduct and thus dismissed. 
       
“To enable the public to suffer no further through bus stoppages, we have agreed to the matter going to arbitration. 
       
“We are confident that the arbitration panel will support the decision made by DPT Management.”