Premier David Burt announced early Sunday morning that Belco workers have ended their industrial action following an emergency meeting held last night , and that Bermuda’s electricity supply will continue uninterrupted, while further talks continue with the Ascendant Group and the Electricity Supply Trade Union (ESTU).
In a further statement released this afternoon (Sunday), Premier Burt said: “We spent several hours last night working through various issues and trying to repair a damaged working relationship.
“Unions do not take strike action lightly and in this case it was iportant to engage in a critical examination of the issue they outlined,” said Mr Burt.
“Both sides accept that dialogue must continue and that communication must be open and constructive.
“The ‘work to rule’ has ended and the ESTU executive made it clear that their aim is to provide electricity to the Island safely and reliably.”
In the interim, he said: “The remaining issues will be for the Board to address in due course.
“The Government responded to a need to bring the parties together for the good of the country. Disputes like this can be concerning but we are a mature democracy that has and will continue to manage issues responsibly, mindful of the wider impact on the community.
“Discussions will continue over the next few days and I am confident that electricity supply will be delivered uninterrupted, as both sides are now clearer on what needs to be done to continue the progress achieved last night,” he added.
In a statement released shortly after 6am Sunday morning, Mr Burt said the meeting “was productive and a way forward has been agreed”.
On Friday, unionised members of the ESTU withdrew labour outright, which was countered by a Supreme Court order.
In a statement released last night, the ESTU said they had “exhausted all possible avenues in coming to a beneficial solution for all parties involved in this dispute but the response received has placed us into a corner with no other option but to continue with the withdrawal of labour
“We the ESTU have exhausted all possible avenues in coming to a beneficial solution for all parties involved in this dispute but the response received has placed us into a corner with no other option but to continue with the withdrawal of labour. We are aware of the injunction served, but the severity of this issue is one which cannot be ignored.
“We feel compelled to inform the public of the great steps taken by the E.S.T.U. to ensure the stability of the island. We returned to the company after a membership meeting at B.I.U. on October 19, 2018 to find B.E.L.C.O abandoned by management. We stayed on to ensure the continued supply of electricity to the island.”
The statement continued: “We then had a conversation with the board of directors where we were made to believe an agreement beneficial to both parties would be made and something in writing would be provided by the Board. In a further show of good faith members of the E.S.T.U. went to work to ensure stable supply or power throughout the night and all day today.
“This show of good faith has been pushed backed by the board today for reasons that continue to remain unclear, especially when every effort to work with the company has been exhausted to the extreme. We cannot continue in this unenviable position any further and would like to keep the public notified as best we can and to take all precautions as necessary for possible outages.
“The demands of the E.S.T.U on Friday October 19, 2018 were for the removal of Sean Durfy as CEO of B.E.L.C.O and Ascendant as well as removal from the board of directors along with the removal of Robert Shaeffer as CFO immediately. As a result of conversations with the board and our willingness to work together that mandate has changed to the following;
“The Board will take steps to ensure that the current Chief Executive Officer [CEO] Mr Sean Durfy’s, position and responsibilities within AGL are reviewed with a view to the Board removing him from having any involvement in the management of the day-to-day operations of BELCO and with a view to his tenure with AGL coming to an end.
“As long as the company is unwilling to respond in a meaningful way we feel we have no other alternative.”