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Bermuda: Government legal action undermines educators’ trade union rights

published 23 November 2015 updated 24 November 2015

Bermuda’s public authorities have initiated a questionable legal action to attack the right to strike, accusing trade unions of taking part in illegal industrial action.

Last January, the Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT), which is affiliated to Education International (EI), worked with the government in good faith in addressing budgetary shortfalls. Budgetary solutions were mutually agreed upon. However the government chose subsequently to ignore the agreed solutions, prompting a protest action from the BUT and four other Bermudian public service unions.

The Minister of Home Affairs of Bermuda is now seeking a permanent injunction making it unlawful for the BUT and the four other trade unions to engage in any type of industrial action. The court hearing will take place from 24 to 26 November.

Education International expressed its support to the BUT and wrote to the Premier of Bermuda, Michael Dunkley, to remind him that, by ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s conventions 87 and 98, Bermuda committed itself to respect the rights of workers and civil servants to freedom of association and to collective bargaining.

It also called on the authorities of Bermuda to withdraw the legal action against the BUT, maintain a meaningful dialogue with the unions and respect collective agreements.