Hard on the heels of questions fielded by TNN to Premier David Burt at the latest COVID-19 briefing comes word that 51  employees employed by the Butterfield Group internationally were made redundant, with “roughly half of the positions impacted” based in Bermuda.
The workers involved were formally informed of their plight on Monday (October 12) “that their positions were made redundant as a consequence of internal reorganization”.

A spokesperson said: “Roles in several departments were affected. We have been very careful to adjust roles and responsibilities to ensure that our technology, product offerings, and client service will not be negatively impacted by these changes.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 has created a challenging operating environment for Butterfield and all banks. We have made structural changes to partially mitigate a decline in the Bank’s revenue caused by the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“The changes are in addition to a number of other cost management steps that have already been implemented, including voluntary employee separations, restrictions on business travel, premises consolidation, and limitations on the use of contractors and temps, among other initiatives.

“We are treating impacted employees fairly and with respect, providing outplacement support and severance packages that exceed statutory requirements,” the spokesperson added.

Premier David Burt was asked about the redundancies at the latest COVID-19 briefing by TNN.

Referring to a comment made in his opening statement, the Premier; who did not say how many workers were affected, reiterated why he said: “I had a phone call from a constituent yesterday, who had been informed that the position at their job that they have been working at for a very long time, has been made redundant.

“They were seeking help and answers. That is why it formed a significant part of our Cabinet meeting today, the first Cabinet meeting of the new Government.

Premier David Burt

“I would like to let members of the public know that next Monday, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Labour will hold a joint press conference and will update the public on the work being done to support those that are being displaced from work and also to speak about the measures that are being put in place to jumpstart and to continue the work to stimulate our economy.

“It is important and that is the number one focus of the Government. That is why we have to focus on what is working and develop as much as we can with our tourism economy,” he added.

Responding to the question asked by TNN, he said the constituent who contacted him was a relative.

Bermuda Real sent a formal request for confirmation on the total number of redundancies involved – we have yet to receive an answer.

In his opening remarks at the latest news briefing, the Premier also stated that “the Government is working with employers and is receiving regular notifications of redundancies or restructuring which are necessary due to the business conditions caused by the pandemic”.

“We get the numbers, and we all hear them, but it is important for us to remember that each of those numbers represents a family, someone whose career may have been cut short, a provider for a senior or a young person who is now feeling very uncertain about the future,” he said.

“I do not want anyone watching or listening to me now to think that the Government is blind or deaf to the challenges being faced by families and the incredible stress that the economic uncertainty causes.”

He also noted that “the last time GDP was higher than 2019 was in 2013” and that “there were more Bermudians working by December 2019 than at any time since 2014”.

Additionally, he said: “More Tourists came to Bermuda in 2019 than at any time in the last 10 years.

Photo Courtesy of TNN

“I know there can be a lot of misinformation during election periods, but now that those times are behind us, I wanted to share that objective data that while previously reported, sometimes gets lost in the cut and thrust and the back and forth of politics.

“Clearly there are also other challenges which the Government is working on, specifically the issue with Canada and the Canadian flights which were cut back because of the restrictions which were put in place for visitors to Canada, which is an issue that we continue to work on and additionally there is the other issue which has recently occurred with the New York quarantine and the State of New York,” he added.

“There is continued work and effort there and if we do not resolve that issue, it can lead to a continued reduction of flights, and what we want to do is our best to make sure that we avoid that.

“The more people demanding to fly to Bermuda, the more flight capacity we will have, and that will cause us to continue to support our tourism industry during the winter.

“As airlines struggle to restore their flights and to fly profitable routes, Bermuda’s Hospitality Industry will gradually be greater served, and we are certainly seeing some level of improvement.”

In closing, he said: “It is no question that during this fall we are in the midst of a very turbulent period, which is towards the end of a very turbulent year. And, just as we have worked together as a country to get through the challenges of which we face so far in 2020 that will be ever more important over the next few months.

“It is without question going to get bumpy, and as I have acknowledged previously, there are going to be fears and doubts, but as we live on this island together, let us be in no doubt whatsoever that working together we will be able to overcome these challenges,” said Mr Burt.

“The Government is laser focused on the work which is necessary to improve the economy and we will stop at nothing to make sure that what we do is get our people back to work so that we can have a standard of living after this pandemic that actually makes sure that the people of this country can afford to live here, and continue to live here in comfort.”