By Michael Weeks MP
Bermudians daily speak about the overwhelming need to break down the divide between the “two Bermudas”.
Today, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain a little bit about why Bermuda works best when Bermudians are put first.
When we talk about two Bermudas, we are referring to:
• The mindset that says there is one set of rules for a few, and another set of rules for everyone else.
• When who you know, or the colour of your skin, has higher value than what you know.
• When there is one set of wages for one group of people, and another pay scale for everyone else, despite equal or even superior qualifications and experience.
• When some of us are unable to earn a living wage, and are living from hand to mouth, and paycheck to paycheck with no chance of advancement. No matter how hard or long we work.
• When the full weight of the law is applied to some. While others get away scot-free.
Michael Weeks graduated from Howard University in Washington DC with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, Majoring in Accounting and a minor in Social Work. He is a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister for Youth, Sport, Community and Cultural Development.
Bermudian people are our greatest resource.
However as long as some are driven by a mindset that says elevate a few and leave everyone else behind, then we are neglecting that greatest resource.
To address this divide, we must first look at helping our people to make better life choices.
From taking advantage of the educational and training options available, to family planning and increased savings and investments.
We must ensure that we invest in our people from the cradle to maturity, ensuring that they have the skills, resources and opportunities to avoid creating self-inflicted obstacles and impediments.
Next, we must examine the structural impediments that are creating two Bermudas.
With new leadership comes a new approach. A new way of doing things with real transformational reform of education, is at the top of the PLP’s agenda. We as Bermudians, have to ensure Bermudians aspire to reach for the highest academic and technical goals.
For too long, there have been issues of wage equity, exploitation of foreign labour, and discrimination against Bermudians in the private sector. Employers are far too quick to use the excuses that Bermudians are either not qualified, or lack experience.
• Requiring all businesses to include the salary range in job advertisements to minimize opportunities for wage disparities based on race, gender or sexual orientation.
• Introducing tougher penalties for violation of the Human Rights Act, including a provision to name and shame.
• Increasing penalties for Immigration and work permit violations.
• Strengthening laws and policies to protect work permit holders from intimidation and exploitation
• Instituting Human Rights Protection for our seniors in the workplace
Many of us have been blessed with opportunities that our parents and grandparents were denied such as:
• Attending university
• Home ownership
• Career advancement
Through organizations such as the unions, friendly societies, PTAs and the PLP, much has improved. However breaking down the barriers between the two Bermudas is the next necessary step in the positive development of our country.
The PLP believes in a Bermuda where Bermudians must come first in opportunities. We will never be satisfied as long as injustice, inequity and the opportunity for each of us to reach our full potential is in place.
Bermudians come first in our vision, first in our plan, and will be the first to benefit, regardless of what parish we live in, which church we attend, or whatever skin tone one may be.
We will continue to work with all Bermudians who want to make this vision of Bermuda a reality.