Couriers, gateway operators, operations agents, customer services and finance workers in Bermuda now enjoy improved working conditions and a positive relationship with their employer – thanks to the first ever collective bargaining agreement negotiated between DHL Express and the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU).
BIU divisional organiser and negotiator, Louis Somner told the ITF about the ups and downs along the way and what the situation is like for the workers almost year after the agreement went live:
“It wasn’t easy, we made several attempts at negotiating an agreement. The first was in 2008. At one point we had 90 percent of the agreement negotiated but wages and sick leave were the sticking points.
“The company used delaying tactics and many members were frustrated and left. Management picked on the most vulnerable workers. They’d talk to them about their work permits and how the union dues would eat into their incomes.
“But we got them back, got them together and again reassured them of their organising rights, as enshrined in Bermuda’s constitution. We talked to workers everywhere. It kept them confident and kept us together.
“We needed this confidence and unity – it’s what got us all this landmark agreement.
“Now almost 12 months down the line, we have started a positive relationship with management. The workers are pleased with the agreement. They know that things should continue to get better as it matures.
“Management have even agreed to give all 3,500 of our members discounts when they send packages, whether they are DHL employees or not. With the backing and expertise of Daniel, our chief shop steward, DHL workers in Bermuda now have better lives.”
Find out more about the BIU