Home All Blog Posts Column: Govt & Union Collaboration Is Critical

Column: Govt & Union Collaboration Is Critical

[Opinion column written by MP Jason Hayward]

The effect of Covid-19 on economies around the world will present Governments with new fiscal challenges that will require Government officials and Union leaders to work in collaboration and cooperation. The old behaviours of maintaining entrenched positions at the expenses of increased efficiency, productivity and service delivery must change. A collaborative relationship will require both parties to trust and take risks.

As the health crisis presses on, the economic crisis will continue to expand with no sign of abatement. The full impact that the health crisis will have on our economy is not known, however, we should all be clear that the Country will have fiscal challenges as a result of an inevitable recession. Our tourism industry has been decimated. Tourism-related revenues and thousands of direct and indirect tourism-related jobs have disappeared. Our entire economy is in a tailspin.

Many will be added to the thousands who are already struggling with long-term unemployment. With payroll tax being the largest source of Government revenue, it is expected that the Government’s revenue will be severely impacted. In the midst of declining revenues, the Government must now borrow to ensure that it stimulates the economy and provides adequate social protections. The economic effects of Covid-19 will have a graver impact on our economy than the Global Financial Crisis.

We are all in unchartered territory, with a tough road ahead. These are the times for bold leadership that recognizes that working together is less about one’s own interest and more about a sincere conviction that doing so serves the best interest of the country as a whole.

The collaboration will require both parties to operate with a clear mandate based upon a vision from leaders that can be translated into specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely objectives. Both parties need to understand that collaboration can be advantageous when the aims of cooperation exceed the areas of disagreement. The last thing that the Country needs is large scale industrial unrest as a result of misguided expectations in the midst of Bermuda attempting to recover.

The Unions are best positioned to assist. Union collaboration is nothing new, however, more is at risk if we get it wrong this time around. Unions will have to dig deeper than they have ever before. What will be required will have to transcend agreements of the past such as multi-year pay freezes and furlough days.

The familiar calls from the private sector for a smaller Government, better service delivery, the increased use of IT systems and privatization of services will only become amplified. Unions must become transformational partners, as new efficiencies will have to be created in order for the Governments to provide cost-effective services and programmes. Unions must assist in the designing and implementation of new cost-effective ways of delivering services which are suited to the needs of customers.

A concerted effort is required to change the current culture of operating. It will not be easy, however, a shift in paradigm is critical for us to get the Country back on a sustainable recovery path.

– Jason Hayward