Unemployment registration drives, virtually unheard of in Bermuda’s modern history, now draw hundreds of islanders. *File photo
Unemployment registration drives, virtually unheard of in Bermuda’s modern history, now draw hundreds of islanders. *File photo

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31: Shorter working weeks should be considered as a genuine option to job cuts, union leaders said yesterday.

The Trade Union Congress called for “meaningful dialogue” in the wake of a series of labour disputes.

Labour leaders accused employers of resorting to job cuts before considering other options. And they called for unions to be consulted as part of an ongoing process rather than after key decisions had already been made.

The TUC — the umbrella body for eight Trade Unions — called a press conference yesterday to give its verdict on a period of labour unrest.

Shine Hayward, of the musicians union, said: “While we do appreciate the process of 21 day strike notices and arbitration our preference is for all this to be avoided through early and honest dialogue between Government, employers and unions.”

He highlighted a lack of trust between Government, employers and unions as a barrier to dialogue.

Job sharing

Ed Ball, general secretary of the BPSU added that a lack of ‘managerial leadership’ meant many employers were cutting jobs and only consulting the unions after it was a done deal.

“Some employers appear to think because they have been given a mandate to cut there are no options available.

“What about job sharing, what about shorter working weeks, I don’t hear any creative means. All they do is just cut, cut, cut.

“What happens to these people? I have yet to hear any substantial body in Bermuda say what plans they have for these people.

“Who pays their health insurance claims, who is going to pay their rent, make sure their kids have got food?”

With representatives from the Bermuda Union of Teachers and the Bermuda Federation of Musicians and Variety Artists also present, TUC leader Mike Charles said the unions stood ready to support each other in labour disputes.

Mr Ball added: “If we don’t pull together as a people then we are going to see harsh times.

“There’s not sugar coating that will stop that reality happening.

“The TUC is calling for firm dialogue so we can put together a plan of recovery for Bermuda.

“It doesn’t have to be done by the employers alone, it doesn’t have to be done by Government alone, countries that have looked to a tri-partite solution have succeeded in turning round their economies.”