FRIDAY, JANUARY 11: Union chief Chris Furbert today accused new Home Affairs Minister of failing to live up to his promise to have “open dialogue” with labour representatives.

And he said that Sen. Fahy had broken labour relations laws with his appointments to the Permanent Arbitration Tribunal – and dumped BIU representatives from the Immigration Board.

Mr Furbert said: “The open dialogue that the Minister promised… is not so open.”

And he pledged to raise the issue with other unions at a meeting next week and at a meeting with Sen. Fahy.

Mr Furbert said he had sat on the Immigration Board after then Minister Patrice Minors appointed him in 2012 and that a sister union still has a member sitting.

Mr Furbert said: “We are talking about work permits, jobs, protection of jobs for Bermudians. These sort of things, for labour to be represented helps to bring some checks and balances to the immigration process.”

The Permanent Arbitration Tribunal includes OBA chairman Thad Hollis and General Election candidate Nick Kempe, who lost out in Pembroke West Central to the PLP’s David Burt.

Mr Furbert said: “I’m not accusing them of anything, but Mr Hollis could potentially have a conflict of interest. Matters could be referred to the Board by the Minister and Mr Hollis would have to take decisions.”

He added that the Labour Relations Act 1975 was clear that the chairman and deputy chairman of the Permanent Arbitration Tribunal should hold office for three years and that members of the panel should serve for two years.

But Mr Furbert said: “It is my understanding that there are members of the Permanent Arbitration Tribunal who have not served out their term and the Minister has removed them without consultation with them.”

He added that the Act also said that “before exercising his powers…..the Minister shall consult such trades unions or other organisations as appear to him to be representative of the views of the employers and workmen in Bermuda.”

But Mr Furbert said: “I can tell you the Bermuda Industrial Union was not consulted and I have spoken to one of our sister unions and I have been assured they were not consulted either.”

He added that Bermuda Trades Union Council chief Mike Charles had been given less than a day to respond before the appointments were gazetted.

Mr Furbert said: “I would like to say to the country that the BIU is on record from time to time that there are only laws for trades unions, not employers. We have to wonder if there are laws for Ministers.”

Sen. Fahy said last night:“I can confirm that I met with Mr. Furbert today at the Hospitality Job Fair regarding his concerns and I will be meeting him in the very near future to continue our discussions.”