Bermuda Industrial Union President Chris Furbert put workers on the front line this week to speak for themselves on the ongoing issues plaguing the Department of Public Transportation.

This after bus operators pulled the plug on providing service on Heroes Day 2018, a move supported by Mr Furbert and the entire DPT Division of the BIU.

Speaking at a news conference after the holiday earlier this week, he insisted “there should be no repercussions” as a result of downing tools on a public holiday.

“I wouldn’t advise any employer to discipline a worker because they decided not to work any overtime,:” he said.

He also noted that industrial action would have been taken no matter which government was in power.

“Let’s be clear — this would have happened under a UBP government, it would have happened under a PLP government, it would have happened under an OBA government.”

To be frank he said the withdrawal of labour was the direct result of anger over problems – some spanning more than three or five years, that have yet to be resolved by DPT management.

“The workers have made it clear that all they want is some kind of time frame as to when these issues are going to be addressed,” he added.

Despite the confused stance taken by DPT in the lead up to the holiday, he said: “They had at least a day-and-a-half notice as to what was going to be taking place.”

And despite the warning by the Minister of Home Affairs, over the weekend that industrial action by transportation staff would be illegal, the union leader said: “I said to him I’m not sure who gave you the advice that you got, but this is not correct.

“And if people are going to say, whether its employers or the public, that workers don’t have a right to go on a work-to-rule and suspend overtime then that means we are going back to slavery.”

Transport Minister Walter Roban at DPT

He also noted that he spoke with the Minister of Transport, Walter Roban, three times on Sunday.

“The minister has given a commitment that he wants to sit down and address these issues.”

And he said: “If it looks like we’re not getting management’s attention on issues and it’s going to take this kind of stuff to get everyone’s attention, well, if that’s what it’s going to take, we apologise.

“It’s unfortunate, extremely unfortunate, that it’s come to this.

“You want to put some of it on my members’, we’ll take that, but we can’t take it all.

“Government’s got to take some of it, the employer’s got to take some of it, and the public for not insisting, whether it’s the OBA back then or the PLP now, that they find some money to buy new buses, like the OBA Government found money to have the America’s Cup.C”

And then he let the mechanics, often blamed for the ongoing breakdowns by DPT management, spoke up for themselves.