The Bermuda Industrial Union’s approach to resolving disputes could be likened to a child that always throws a tantrum when he doesn’t get his way. It’s one thing when a strike is called when all other attempts to negotiate have failed, it’s a whole different thing when it seems like every time there is a slight disagreement, an ’emergency meeting’ (read: strike) is the first course of action. The union certainly is justified to do what it takes to defend the rights of it’s workers but at some point the depth of their antics do more to damage their reputation in the eyes of the public than help it.
Yesterday’s ’emergency meeting’ was just another in a string of impromptu strikes that have been called at the hand of the Bermuda Industrial Union over the last couple years. It has risen to such a state that a perception has developed that each time there is a slight disagreement between the union and government, the first action of the union is to strike as a means to embarrass the government into backing down. The distinction is that it has occurred so frequently that the union has done more to embarrass itself than the government.
These impromptu meetings have reached a state where it becomes very easy to question the union’s motives and whether it is actually reasonable in it’s approach to resolutions. Indeed, what procedure does it undertake in resolving disputes? Does it exhaust all other options before resorting to public disruption or is this simply a case of selfishness on the part of union members where the easiest route of embarrassing the government is the first choice simply because it will always yield the best results for the union.
While when reading the story of Mr. Herbert Russell’s dismissal it is easy to side with the union that a termination of his employment was going too far, however so too was the calling of an emergency meeting to seek resolution. The union is earning for itself a reputation of “screw the people, it’s all about us” when they reach for such drastic action each time there is a dispute. It is this perception that may well lead to it’s own downfall for while unions can be wonderful tools for ensuring worker’s rights, when abused they can also very quickly turn the tides of public opinion against them.
A bit of advice for union heads should any of them read this blog, if you want to adequately communicate with the membership without disrupting and pissing off the public at every turn, look further into technology to assist you in your efforts. These days nearly everyone has a cell phone and is capable of sending and receiving text messages. Look into communicating with your membership as well as even holding votes on action through text messages. This way, you could easily vote in advance whether to strike on a given day over a dispute. This allows you to communicate quickly and efficiently with your member base while also giving swift notice to the public and government that action will be taken. This gives the public ample time to learn of the scenario and decide whether to support your efforts as well as government ample time to respond to the threat of action. Simply taking action via ’emergency meetings’ does you no favors.
Indeed, the Bermuda Industrial Union’s approach to resolving disputes at present is one that is far less than ideal. While defending the rights of it’s workers is certainly warranted, impromptu strikes will do little more than turn the public against them. As someone who has personally been left stranded and lost a day of work due to one of these impromptu strikes, this writer can assure you that his support of the union now diminishes with each such unnecessary action. If anything, the union is doing itself a disservice with such action as the more it occurs, the more support for government to take punitive action will grow so that we can finally put an end to such tactics.