(CMC) – Workers at the Bermuda Electric Light Company (Belco) , the island’s sole power provider, have been ordered back to work after a strike was called over a stand-off with the company’s management.
Electricity Supply Trade Union (ESTU) members were given a legal warning to end their industrial action after a court ruling on Friday.
A spokesman for Ascendant, Belco’s parent company, said “Ascendant Group Limited (has) obtained an order from the Supreme Court directing members of the Electricity Supply Trade Union to return to their full employment effective immediately.
“The order states that the ESTU ‘shall be restrained from contravening the Labour Relations Act 1975 by means of a strike or withdrawal of labour or any irregular industrial action short of strike which shall include picketing or any work-to-rule’”
“It is expected that ESTU members will comply with the order and return to work with immediate effect and normal operations will resume,” the spokesman said.
ESTU president Donald Lottimore declined to comment until union members had discussed the legal ruling.
Staff downed tools early on Friday after talks with management on Thursday night failed to end an impasse caused by the departure of four non-unionised Bermudian management staff and anger about the management style of Sean Durfy, Ascendant’s chief executive officer.
The union imposed a work-to-rule at the company over the dispute two weeks ago.
The court move came after the union stuck to demands made on October 4 to Ascendant, which included the removal of Durfy, as well as Robert Schaefer, the company’s chief financial officer.
The union also wanted the reinstatement of four Bermudian management staff who had earlier left the company.
Lottimore said that after a meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters on Friday members had agreed to halt their two-week work-to-rule and voted for “withdrawing our labour to make sure our membership’s demands are heard”.
Ascendant warned earlier that the lack of manpower had made “an immediate impact” and the company could not guarantee an uninterrupted electricity supply.
But the firm added that power for essential services would be maintained in the event of outages.