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Bermuda union marches in protest of dismissals

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Bermuda union marches in protest of dismissals

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (CMC) – The powerful Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) yesterday staged a massive show of strength in the capital support of ten workers sacked by an historic hotel here last week.
The dispute has gone to arbitration, but the BIU appears not willing to participate.
Government said bus services were hit and ferries were cancelled, as union workers downed tools in support of the workers dismissed by the Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel.
Five of the dismissed workers are members of the union.
The industrial action escalated yesterday morning when staff at the resort’s sister hotel, the Fairmont Southampton, voted to walk off the job. Unionised hotel workers marked that decision with a march through the streets of the capital at lunchtime.
The BIU promised an even greater show of strength later in the day, with members from all union divisions – including transport workers – called in for another protest march.
“The march was a result of a meeting that we had this [yesterday] morning. Members from both hotel properties and all our general council members met this [yesterday] morning and decided enough was enough and decided to ask me to put a call out to the entire union membership to come up to Union Square as soon as they could make it,” said BIU president Chris Furbert.
Furbert said he did not know how services would be affected later.
Hundreds of union members took part in the lunchtime march through Hamilton, which caused traffic along Front Street to be diverted.
Marching ten abreast, the ranks of workers stopped outside the Cabinet Office and the offices of Workforce Development, where an arbitration hearing into the dispute got under way yesterday.
Furbert said hotel management had not followed “normal process” when carrying out the redundancies. 
He has also said staff would not return to work and the union would not take part in any arbitration until the dismissed staff had been reinstated – a move the hotel has so far refused to countenance.