Bermuda’s prison officers and police are now the only two remaining groups of civil servants working without a new wage agreement.
Of the six groups under Collective Bargaining Agreements in the civil service, Minister of Government Reform, Lovitta Foggo told MPs on Friday, that wage negotiations for both the Prison Officers Association and the Bermuda Police Association Agreements are currently in progress.
Ms Foggo, while providing an update on Government’s Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, said talks for both are currently in progress.
Overall, she said there are a total of seven Collective Bargaining Agreements – all of which have expired since the Progressive Labour Party took office in July 2017.
“Since that time, the Government has successfully negotiated four new Agreements,” said Ms Foggo.
“These include: Bermuda Public Services Union (general membership); Bermuda Industrial Union; Fire Services Association; and The Bermuda Union of Teachers Collective Bargaining Agreements.
“Also, the Government has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bermuda Public Services Union (Principals), pending further review and consultation of an Agreement in principle,” she added.
She also noted that general membership agreement for BPSU members will reach term on September 30. The BIU Agreement will reach term on December 31.
The Fire Services Association Agreement will reach term at the end of March in 2020 and agreement for the island’s teachers expires at the end of August this year.
“Notwithstanding the milestone of having successfully completed negotiations with most partners, varying expiration dates, as well as provisions to re-open specific clauses in years two and three of the multi-year Agreements, will require new talks with the Unions,” said Ms Foggo.
“Accordingly, it is expected that talks will re-open with our Unions partners in the coming weeks and months.
“Having taken the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the new approach to negotiations, the Government has determined that the model which relies upon non-technical officers to lead negotiations is indeed reasonable.”
Moving forward, she said the recently appointed members of the Public Sector Negotiations Team (PSNT), replaced the original members “appointed by the then Government in 2016”.
Those members included Gary Phillips as Chairman, John Harvey, and Martin Law.
On that note she extended “thanks and appreciation” on behalf of the Government.
But she said: “It is well documented that they commenced their initial discussions in 2016 without a mandate. A matter that served to frustrate the process.
“This notwithstanding, once issued a bonafide mandate under the current Government the team worked diligently to ensure positive outcomes.
“It is expected that the original team will conclude their current work in the coming weeks or upon conclusion of negotiations with the Prison Officers Association.”
Negotiations with the new PSNT, headed up by Chairman
Jonathan Smith, Orin Simmons and Vincent Hollinsid get underway on Tuesday, May 1, which is International Workers’ Day.
“As a priority, the PSNT will complete the Bermuda Public Services Union (Principals) negotiations and simultaneously enter into new negotiations with the Bermuda Union of Teachers as well as continue the Bermuda Police Association negotiations,” the Minister said.
“The Government, through its actions, has reinforced its commitment to maintaining a healthy and harmonious workplace, as well as good industrial and employment relations.
“Priority has therefore been placed on monthly scheduled Joint Consultative Meetings, which include management and Union representatives within each Department, to deal with conditions of employment and effective operations.
“Of equal importance are the quarterly scheduled Central Consultative Committee Meetings, which include the Civil Service Executive and Union representatives, to address management issues.”
The Minister concluded; “Communication is vitally important to good employment and industrial relations and is the hallmark of effective leadership.