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Fury over dockers' walk-out

By Matthew Taylor, The Royal Gazette, 7 May 2000

Stevedoring Services Limited have blasted dockers For walking off the job for a court hearing they had no chance of attending.

The hearing was to decide damages against the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) after an earlier court decision ruled that the dockers had broken an injunction with an overtime ban.

At yesterday's hearing the BIU moved to try and have the costs frozen.

Stevedoring Services' lawyer Alan Dunch said BIU lawyers had not served him with papers about their legal bid so the matter was adjourned until Thursday.

And he attacked the union for not showing up for work so they could attend the court session which was held in private. Management unloaded containers themselves until the 60-odd dockers returned to work shortly before noon.

Mr. Dunch said: "I regard it as utterly ridiculous. There was no need for them to be there in court. We got wind they might show up yesterday.

"We wrote to the union and the union lawyer saying `please don't disrupt the service' but they did so anyway. There was no reason for it.

"They won't be paid. They've lost a day's wage for nothing. It makes me wonder what the union is playing at.

"I am irritated the costs' issue was not dealt with today. If I have to wait another three or four days then that's life."

He said he thought the union was seeking to avoid costs until they had another go at appealing the original decision after Chief Justice Vincent Meerabux had rejected the initial appeal.

It is understood the union is now appealing to the Court of Appeal.

BIU leader Derrick Burgess defended his men for turning up at court. "The dockers are involved in this case." He declined to comment further. In other union news yesterday, the five-day Cablevision dispute has ended.

Talks had stalled on the issue of pay for installers but it was unclear last night how the deadlock had been broken.

Mr. Burgess declined to comment on the matter and the company again failed to return calls.