Hamilton, Bermuda — Nearly 4,000 government workers in Bermuda held a mass meeting on Monday morning to vote on the government’s proposal to demand further pay cuts from civil servants.
However, a meeting with government representatives scheduled for 3:00 pm did not take place and another meeting of union members is expected to take place on Tuesday at 9:00 am.
On July 25, 2013, all six public sector unions agreed to a 4.6% reduction in pay, with civil servants receiving one unpaid and un-worked day per month for two years, and a pay freeze until 2015. Estimated savings were expected to be $21 million in the first year and $42 million in the second.
A year later, on July 20, 2014, the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) government tabled the “For Information” Public Bodies Reform Bill 2014 in the House of Assembly. This bill set the groundwork for the privatization, mutualization or outsourcing of government workers’ jobs
On October 6, 2014, the Bermuda Public Services Union (BPSU) released a report outlining its position against the Public Bodies Reform Act.
Later that month, on October 26, the government agreed that:
- the Public Bodies Reform Bill will “not be tabled during the first session of the House of Assembly and will be deferred thereafter should collective efforts result in a 5% reduction in the operating budget for 2014/15”;
- a Budget Reduction Working Group would be established to identify budget cuts of 5%. This group would be made up of government representatives and members of the BTUC;
- the group would be given a deadline of December 12, 2014.
In December 2014, the Budget Reduction Working Group proposed cuts that would result in an estimated $37 million savings; however, the government demanded further cuts and extended the deadline to December 17.
Last Friday, the government issued a letter to the BTUC seeking “a furlough day or a furlough day equivalent” from their membership and demanding a response by Monday, January 26.
The meeting to vote on the proposal was therefore called by the Bermuda Trade Union Congress, which acts as an umbrella group for the following unions:
- Bermuda Industrial Union
- Bermuda Public Services Union
- Bermuda union of Teachers
- Prison officers union
- Police officers union
- Bermuda Entertainers Union
- Electrical Supply Trade Union