Christopher Famous

United we stand: join a union

  • Former BIU President Ottiwell Simmons (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Speaker, unfortunately, there are many in Bermuda who forget that this party that we represent is first and foremost a labour party. A labour party that has always advocated the betterment of all workers of Bermuda for more than 50 years.

Together, with our union partners and labour legends such as E.F. Gordon, Barbara Ball, Ottiwell Simmons, Molly Burgess and Eugene Blakeney, we have helped to usher in legislation that has led to social advancement for the workers of Bermuda.

These advancements include:

Maternity leave

Paid vacation

Health and safety on the job

52-week redundancy pay packages

Pension plans for retirees

Mr Speaker,

The world in which we live continues to evolve, with automation, globalisation and technology wreaking havoc on the numbers of persons employed across the world and locally. Advocates of loose immigration policies, both here and abroad, care not where workers come from as long as the worker is prepared to work for less than a livable wage.

These liberal policies have displaced thousands of Bermudian workers in all ranges of professions, from chambermaids to qualified accountants. The result has been an exodus of a large portion of born Bermudians to foreign shores.

This alone is a clear and present danger to critical issues such as retail sales, our payroll tax base and our birthrate.

Mr Speaker,

As a labourer, as a union member, and as a labour MP, it is my duty to seek and give as much advice as possible to my fellow workers of Bermuda.

My first, extremely shocking observation, as seen in the attached chart, is that the vast majority of the Bermudian workforce is not unionised.

Mr Speaker,

Shockingly, roughly 75 per cent of our workforce is without union protection and guidance.

In these times when we have an uptick of employers willing to exploit workers, we must encourage as many of them to not only join a union but also to seek to participate in making those unions as proactive as possible.

An increasing number of individuals in white-collar professions are finding themselves wondering if they will be made redundant anytime soon. Indeed, many in the local banking industry wish that they were members of a union.

Without a union presence, far too many employers find, or even invent, a reason to either cut staff or find ways blatantly to avoid hiring Bermudians. As a reminder, on July 18, 2017, this labour party was elected on a mandate to protect and to uplift the Bermudian workforce.

Mr Speaker,

Whether the worker is an accountant, a mechanic or in the hospitality industry, they will find a union that fits their profession. They will find:

A union that seeks to enhance their health and safety awareness

Find brothers and sisters who will help to advance them professionally

A union that ensures fair and equitable wages

A union that teaches long-term financial planning

A union that retools workers for the future

A union that works with other unions to put the workers first

To the 24,000 thousand non-unionised workers of Bermuda, we strongly urge you to seek out how you and your coworkers can become union members.

Mr Speaker,

During the past five years, the unions and their members went out of their way on countless occasions to advance the cause of their fellow Bermudians.

It is now our turn to advance the unions cause.

Mr Speaker,

Simply put, united we stand.

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at cfamous@plp.bm