Bermuda Public Services Union President Armell Thomas hit back at what he termed the “denigrating” remarks by the Minister of Public Works against Black women employed by the Ministry and Department of Health.
To make wide-sweeping generalized allegations against Black women was not only extremely offensive, denigrating and professionally damaging, said Mr Thomas.
Those comments “may also be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1981”, he added.
“As the President of the Bermuda Public Services Union, it was with great disappointment that I listened to the presentation made in the House of Assembly on Friday, July 17, 2020 by the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, regarding the alleged ‘disgraceful and malicious treatment’ of Dr Carika Weldon,” said Mr Thomas.
“With the protection of parliamentary privilege, MP Burch accused unnamed ‘Black Bermudian women’ employed with the Ministry and Department of Health of ‘terrorizing’ Dr Weldon and ‘deliberately planning and plotting for her ultimate failure’.
“The Minister went on further to claim that these alleged attacks were the result of “the jealousy and envy of black women towards other black women who are successful.
“My dismay in hearing these public allegations was compounded by the fact that I personally have the utmost respect for MP Lt Col Burch, and with this in mind, I attempted to express my concerns directly to both the Minister and the Premier.
“I do not take lightly having to come to the public via the media, however, unfortunately I have not had the courtesy of an acknowledgement of the receipt of my letter outlining my concerns nor a returned telephone call,” said Mr Thomas.
“Through the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the Bermuda Government and the BPSU have an agreed process by which allegations of misconduct and/or gross misconduct are handled,” he added.
“If the Government has genuine issues with the conduct of specific Public Officer(s) and have the requisite evidence to support these allegations, the contractually agreed grievance handling process must be adhered to. Every worker is entitled to due process.
“To make wide-sweeping generalized allegations against “Black women employed with the Ministry and Department of Health” are not only extremely offensive, denigrating and professionally damaging but may also be in breach of the Human Rights Act 1981.
“I remind the public that the Public Officers who have been swept up in these allegations have sacrificed over this Covid-19 period to ensure the health and safety of the Bermuda public. They have also agreed to sacrifice 10% of their wage and should not be denigrated in such an egregious manner.
“Instead of fueling the fire with rumours and criticism, the BPSU implores the Government to engage in proper and meaningful dialogue.”