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Protesters force closure of Bermuda’s House of Assembly

March 15, 2016 - Author: bdadmin

HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) — Bermuda’s House of Assembly remained closed yesterday after legislators were locked out by protesters who formed a human ring around the building in a continuing protest against government’s proposed Pathways to Status initiative.

Premier of Bermuda, Michael Dunkley.

Premier of Bermuda, Michael Dunkley.

Politicians were due to debate the controversial bill but an estimated 1,500 protesters, who stayed in the House grounds all day, demanded the status bill be withdrawn. At 6.15 pm yesterday the Rev Nicholas Tweed, spokesman for pressure group the People’s Campaign, announced that the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Cabinet had ‘gone home’.

He said that the Speaker of the House, Randy Horton, had said the House would reconvene on Wednesday but Tweed told protesters it did not mean they had won their fight.

“We have decided to return tomorrow (today). You have decided to return tomorrow. There’s one condition. We [will] double [or] triple the number,” he said.

There was no immediate comment from the Government.

Among the protesters was Enda Matthie, who has been on hunger strike for seven days.

Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert told the crowd, “This is not a labour issue this is a national issue.

“All we are asking for is what is just and fair. The country needs to see the bigger picture.”

Furbert said a government offer — which he did not elaborate on — had been received but rejected.

He admitted protesters were walking a thin line, but added that it was in everyone’s interest to resolve the matter.

“Let’s be patient,” he said, calling Bermuda “the laughing stock of the world right now”.

Earlier, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce weighed in on Pathways to Status, saying it supports the legislation.

However, Chamber President John Wight said “simultaneous” efforts must also be made to address the social needs of the community.

“With the Chamber’s mission being to ‘cultivate the best environment in which all businesses can prosper’, the executive board of the Chamber of Commerce supports the concept of the proposed immigration reform legislation but stresses that there must be simultaneous measures taken to address the social needs of the community to ensure its success for all sectors of Bermuda,” Wight stated.

He added that the private sector group believes getting Bermuda’s economy and community “back on track should be the focus of our collective efforts”.

The legislation, which Wight described as a “very critical issue for all of Bermuda”, has been introduced to provide more permanence to guest workers who have met minimum threshold limits of residency in Bermuda.

“We are very sensitive to the emotion in our community over this issue.There are many struggling businesses and unemployed persons who, through no fault of their own, are barely surviving and are having difficulty supporting themselves and their families.

“We also recognise that there are deep-rooted feelings, based on historic amendments to immigration policies that have adversely impacted certain segments of our community,” Wight said.

While Wight said that it may “understandably be illogical to feel that the proposed legislation will improve the situation”, the reality is that with an ageing population and “more people drawing upon the Government’s bank account than paying into it, Bermuda must increase the numbers of people contributing to the system through increased employment and population expansion”.

More people working and living on island equates to more economic activity, he added.

“We have been very clear and consistent in our message; Chamber members, who represent all sectors of the business community, small, medium, and large, need more people in Bermuda to sell their goods and services to. Several of our members have been struggling for many years.

“The only way for these companies to measurably improve their economic circumstances is to generate more volume of sales, which can only occur if we have more people in Bermuda.

“The discussion, therefore, should not be ‘if’ Bermuda needs more residents. The discussion needs to be around how do we address the real and current needs in the community, increase the numbers of residents, benefit our economy and ensure the economic success of both current and new residents.

“In addition, one part of the solution we believe, has to be to attract many of those Bermudians who have left, to come back home and to prosper in a growing economy.”

Government wants to usher in the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2016 that would open the door for long-term guest workers to gain permanent residency after 15 years and Bermuda status (citizenship) after 20 years but the plan has split the country.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has said amending the 1956 Immigration Act would bring Bermuda in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, generate revenue and help to address the decreasing work population.

Even though Bermuda has emerged from six years of recession the island is struggling to improve its fragile economy.

Meanwhile, Premier Michael Dunkley has revealed that civil servants took almost 38,665 sick days in the 2015/16 fiscal year at a cost of $10.6 million to the Government.


No Comments - Categories: Bermuda Business, Bermuda Employment, Bermuda Government, Bermuda News, Bermuda Politics

No Bermuda Bus Or Ferry Service This Morning (Feb 6)

February 6, 2014 - Author: bdadmin
Bermuda Bus Service

Not running this morning?

No Bermuda bus or ferry service this morning.

February 6, 2014 – Royal Gazette says:

The row surrounding the sacking of ten hotel workers has escalated and residents will have to find their own way to work and school today (Feb 6).

Bus and ferry workers have opted to strike in support of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess staff members, and will attend a meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union this morning.

While recognising the chaos their action is likely to cause Chris Furbert, the Bermuda Industrial Union president, defended the stance, claiming he was acting in the interests of future generations.

“We understand that these are difficult times but you can be assured of this, if this organisation is gone tomorrow the wrath that you will feel from the employers in this country, and others, you won’t want to know that,” said Mr Furbert. [more]

February 5, 2014 – Bernews says:

As it stands now [5.00pm], the buses are running, but will not be running tomorrow.

Marine & Ports Staff will return to work to provide ferry services at 5.30pm – but only on the Pink and Green routes…

Govt. confirm “there will be no bus or ferry service tomorrow morning (Feb 6) and until further notice.”  [more from bernews]

Expedia.comFebruary 5, 2014 – Royal Gazette says:

Public transport services have been scrapped for tomorrow (Feb 6) as the dispute over sacked hotel workers rumbles on to a third day.

Services were thrown into chaos today when hundreds of unionised workers marched in a show of support for the ten staff who were made redundant from the Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel last month.

And tonight a Transport Ministry spokesman confirmed that bus and ferry services had been cancelled tomorrow (Today) after Public Transport Department staff said they would not be showing up for work. [more from the royal gazette]

  • Commenter 32n64w at Bernews says (in part):
  • “…The implied reality and true intent of their decisions would lead any reasonable observer to conclude the BIU executive are more concerned with creating havoc and unrest for political gain at the expense of the Government, taxpayers and voters’ interests; which is particularly relevant in advance of the upcoming (truly) maiden OBA budget and necessary cuts as suggested in the SAGE Commission report…”

1 Comment - Categories: Bermuda News