• The following joint statement was released by the Bermuda Public Services Union & the Bermuda Industrial Union on the proposed amendments to Bermuda’s labour legislation that goes before the Senate next week on Wednesday, January 13, 2021…

With an active 1998 labour complaint before the International Labour Organisation (‘ILO’) for Bermuda’s violation of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No 87), successive Bermuda Governments have continuously pledged to the ILO to consult with Bermuda’s key stakeholders to recommend changes to Bermuda’s Employment Act as well as the Trade Union Act 1965, the Labour Relations Act 1975, and the Labour Disputes Act 1992.

To this end, two successive Labour Advisory Council (LAC) sub-committees were appointed to review the Island’s labour legislation. The LAC is a tripartite committee appointed by Government which comprises of representatives from Government, Unions and employer groups.

In 2016/2017, a LAC sub-committee appointed by the OBA Government and chaired by Alan Dunch, reviewed Canadian legislation, and had extensive discussions on recommended changes to Section 30A, the agency shop fee, the essential services, redundancy /severance allowance, etc. Those amendments were forwarded to the OBA, but there was no action taken to draft labour law amendments.

The subsequent LAC sub-committee, appointed by PLP and chaired by Wendall Hollis, met extensively from 2017 to 2018 to review various pieces to legislation from Canada, USA, the Caribbean, United Kingdom and European Union (EU). All recommended amendments were voted on and agreed to by consensus of the tripartite partners. Mr Hollis submitted the suggested labour law amendments to then Minister of Labour, MP Walton Brown.

The work of these LAC subcommittees culminated with the recent tabling of Bermuda’s Employment Act 2020 as well as the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 2020 in the House of Assembly by the Minister of Labour, Jason P Hayward, JP, MP.

The Unions trust that with the conclusion of the Senators’ debate, Bermuda will finally see the modernization of Bermuda’s labour laws with the passing of these two bills. Once adopted as law on June 1, 2021, Bermuda’s workers will see substantial changes to benefits, discipline, workers’ right and other terms and conditions of employment.

Whilst the BPSU and BIU have agreed in principle with the 2020 labour legislation amendments, the Unions await the critical Regulations which supplement key sections of the Act.

Prior to the legislation being enacted, there are key sections within the proposed legislation that will require supporting regulations. The parties have agreed that these regulations will be developed through continued collaboration and consultation between the tripartite group.