The following statement was released by Premier & Minister of Finance David Burt…

The labour movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress”. These words come from a 1965 speech by Dr Martin Luther King Jr and perfectly frame the historical significance of labour movements the world over and especially in Bermuda. Beyond the workers’ daily labour, the Movement galvanized women and men into a united body, determined to secure basic rights and freedoms for all people.

As most of the rules and regulations of the pandemic era fade from our memories, the successes we enjoyed in navigating those terrible times are owed to the workers of Bermuda. Many did not have the ability to ‘work from home’ or adapt to remote operations. Bermuda’s workers kept our hospital running, kept us safe, our stores remained in operation, the ports were open, teachers continued to teach our children, and transport workers allowed us to move safely about the Island. Their sacrifice can never be forgotten.

The world is gripped by economic pressures and governments are working to secure the future for today’s children by managing this present age with care and concern for working families and a growing senior population. Here at home, the challenges are no different. The Government continues to take action to protect workers from escalating global inflation and ensure that Bermudians can live, thrive, and grow even in this time of global economic challenge.

The Labour Movement, led by the representative Trade Unions, is a critical partner in developing a fairer, more equitable Bermuda.

On behalf of the Government of Bermuda, I state plainly that this partnership is a valuable one, one we are committed to and one which we know requires constant communication, open dialogue, and full recognition of our shared values. Bermuda’s future depends on our mutual commitment to working together and strengthening this critical partnership.

Labour Day gives us an opportunity to reflect and be reminded of the struggles that created the Bermuda of today. Forty-five years after Dr King’s words, an African American President of the United States again framed the enduring impact of the Labour Movement. Barack Obama said in 2010:

“It was the labour movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.” In Bermuda, the cornerstones of every worker’s employment protections, from the boardroom to the construction site, have been achieved by the Labour Movement. Equity was the compass that guided those early organisers and leaders of trade unionism, and as we celebrate the fruits of their labour today, we owe them a debt of gratitude and respect for laying not just cornerstones, but strong foundations on which our future will be built.

Happy Labour Day, Bermuda!