Protest In Bermuda Over Refusal By Authorities To Renew Pastor’s Work Permit

At the centre of the dispute, African Methodist Episcopal Church Reverend Nicholas Tweed. (Photo: Royal Gazette)

 

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Tuesday January 3, 2017 – On a day when the new school term opens and regular business resumes after the New Year holiday, Bermuda is likely to be without several essential services, including transportation.

Bus operators advised last evening that their vehicles would be off the road from 8 a.m. as they attend a meeting called by the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU) for its members. And according to the Royal Gazette newspaper, the move was also likely to disrupt ferry services and garbage collection.

Transport Minister Michael Eahy has hit at the operators, labeling their action “irresponsible.”

“Disruption of public transportation services is totally irresponsible, especially since many schools open on the very day of the meeting being called. The timing is obviously designed to cause maximum disruption,” he is quoted as telling the newspaper. “Those calling for such disruption should be ashamed of themselves.”

The BIU is peeved at the Government’s refusal to renew the work permit of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Reverend Nicholas Tweed.

Ahead of the talks, BIU President Chris Furbert described the decision “as a dark day in Bermuda’s history”, insisting that while Tweed was being “seen as a threat” even though he had family ties in Bermuda.

The Government’s decision has also come under fire from the members of Tweed’s church who issued a statement saying the decision was an “injustice” and an “attack on the faith community”. They were also scheduled to hold a meeting this afternoon.

However, there were no signs that the Government would change its position on the work permit, which Home Affairs Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin explained was denied because the pastor’s application was incomplete.

Yesterday, Acting Home Affairs Minister Cole Simmons in a statement underscored that Tweed’s application was not unfairly handled.

“All that was asked of the employer and applicant was to follow the policy that applies to everyone else seeking work permit approval: Advertise the job and fill out the application on time, accurately and completely. People fully understand, for example, that if they don’t fill out a passport application accurately and completely, it will be rejected. The same goes for a business licence, a driver’s licence or tax returns or any other paperwork related to government services,” he said.

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