WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31: Civil Service union chiefs are to reach out to both main parties in a bid to ease worries over job losses.

Kevin Grant, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said union members were “unsettled” as public sector workers became a pre-election political football.

He said: “I know my members are going to be a bit unsettled because they haven’t received any notification about contract negotiations. We are out of contract just now.

“I don’t think we will want to be waiting around to see what either party will be doing about the Civil Service. We will meet with representatives from both parties to find out what is likely to happen to the Civil Service.”

The ruling PLP has accused the Opposition OBA of planning to cut the size of the Civil Service – although OBA finance spokesman Bob Richards said the party had no plans for compulsory redundancies.

Both parties, however, have said that job losses in the public sector would come about through natural wastage and retirement, with jobs judged to non-essential not re-filled.

Mr Grant stressed that the union was apolitical – as were civil servants themselves.

He said: “Our mandate is the interests of our members – we have to able to represent them and have their best interests at heart at all times.

“Job security is going to be top of our list. We’re definitely going to want to know that everybody keeps their jobs.

“I have said before that workers working is going to turn this country around – we need to keep people working.”

Mr Grant added: “There is a little bit of uncertainty because there is no information being spread about as to where we are heading.

“The economy is not looking that good now and it may be, I hear, a little bit worse next year. People just want to know what’s going on.”

Mr Grant said: “Anybody would be naïve not to think that there will restructuring happening in the Civil Service. All we’re asking is that we work with Government and that they don’t send something down the pipeline and that they don’t sucker punch me. I just want to be able to work with the Government in that regard and I will do my best to do so.”

Mr Grant added that the union was this year celebrating its 60th anniversary and was looking to the future by examining things like increased benefits to members and employment insurance.

He said: “We have to prepare ourselves for what may be happening down the line.”

And he said: “We are still a very strong force and I hope these celebrations send that message.”

Mr Grant reiterated that – although civil servants were criticised – the majority took “pride and a sense of responsibility” in their jobs.

But he warned: “We have to be given the resources to provide quality services and that’s back in the laps of those who provide the funding.”