FRIDAY, MARCH 2: Trades unions will push ahead with talks with Government over a pay cut and pensions contributions freeze despite a police decision that they cannot agree to the deal.

Chris Furbert, president of the BIU, said: “We knew there was a possibility the police would come back and say ‘no’ – we knew that. “Five or six members of the Trades Union Congress are prepared to accept Government’s proposals – with some caveats.

“The unions involved will have to talk to the Government in relation to these caveats.”

Government – in a bid to save more than $30 million in the coming financial year – has asked public sector workers to take a pay cut of eight per cent.

In return, they will freeze pension contributions for a year – eight per cent of salary for most Government workers – meaning take-home pay will be unaffected.

Government will also stop paying its matching share into the pension fund.

Mr Furbert said: “We told Government we can accept the eight and eight, providing we can talk about something which is very dear to us.”

Mr Furbert declined to elaborate on the conditions sought by the BIU. He said: “It’s something we have been fighting for for the past 32 years now – that’s all I can say about it at the moment.”

Kevin Grant, president of the white collar Bermuda Public Services Union, added: “One thing that was agreed upon by the TUC and BIU was that we would make a collaborative effort to address the proposal from Government.”

Bermuda Police Association chairman Kevin Christopher said his members had been asked to take a 9.5 per cent pay cut, but the same percentage usually paid into pensions would be retained by officers. He added: “Based on the legal advice we have received, we are of the opinion that the Bermuda Police Association is prohibited from agreeing to the Government’s request or any other offer as long as we are bound by contract.”

But he said: “Our current contract expires at the end of September 2012, so there may be an opportunity to consider options during the new contract negotiations.”