America’s Cup as a Political Beach Ball

Published on January 5th, 2017

About 65,000 people live on Bermuda, with the capital of the territory being Hamilton with just a 1,000 residents. That’s beyond small town, which makes the America’s Cup beyond big news. And when it comes to politics, having something that big can be a significant weapon, particularly when 2017 is an election year. Here are some of the stories this week:

• Bermuda Industrial Union president Chris Furbert threatened to derail the America’s Cup, leveling the ultimatum at Michael Dunkley, the Premier, warning that he would jeopardise the showpiece event. “The America’s Cup is in great threat of being derailed in June and July,” he said. “The America’s Cup will be in jeopardy.” Full report.

• The docks in Hamilton were “unable to function” on January 4 as all unionized staff had attended a meeting being held by the Bermuda Industrial Union. Warren Jones, chief executive officer at Polaris Holding Company, for which freight handling company Stevedoring Services is a subsidiary said, “We are not functioning as normal today. As far as we know there is a meeting going on, we don’t have any unionized staff. We are almost 100 per cent unionized. We are unable to function without our unionized staff. There is no work, there is no cargo moving.” Full report.

• Industrial strife and threats to disrupt the upcoming America’s Cup will damage Bermuda’s reputation worldwide, a business leader has warned. John Wight, president of the island’s Chamber of Commerce, said: “In today’s media world, everybody is able to view these disruptions. That is not good for Bermuda.” Mr Wight spoke out after a day of disruption on Tuesday (Jan 4) saw public transport grind to a halt and union leaders threaten to derail the sailing competition. Full report.

• “There will be time for an election and there will be time for politics, but now we are putting Bermuda on the road to progress and, in face of threats and innuendo, we will stay calm and composed and move Bermuda forward,” stated Premier Michael Dunkley, leader of the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) political party. He also called on the Progressive Labour Party, the other dominant party on Bermuda, to “respect and support as we try to move forward on this issue.” Full report.

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