Ferry and bus service, garbage collection and dock services in Bermuda came to a grinding halt on Friday, as protestors took to the streets demanding to be part of immigration reform talks.
The island-wide work stoppage was called by the People’s Campaign. In a statement issued on Thursday, the group said it was standing in solidarity with ‘the Immigration Reform Action Group, our Union Brothers and Sisters and all people of goodwill in calling for an island-wide withdrawal of labor on Friday, March 11, 2016 as a show of people-power and island-wide solidarity.”
The group wants the Government of Bermuda to reconsider "its intent to move forward with the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act of 2016," and instead undertake comprehensive immigration reform.
The Michael Dunkley-led government on Thursday soundly dismissed the People’s Campaign’s call for protest as "both irresponsible and misconceived." Premier Dunkly urged Bermudians to proceed to work as usual and "keep helping Bermuda move forward."
While schools remained open, public transportation via bus and ferry was grounded. The country’s Tourism Authority and the Bermuda Hotels Association, in a joint statement, said the action was a "call to shut down the country" and said it was not good for Bermuda’s fragile economy.
Dunkley said on Friday that he would not withdraw the legislation. The government’s proposed immigration legislation makes people who have been residents of Bermuda for 15 years eligible to apply for permanent residency and any permanent resident who has resided in Bermuda for 20 years eligible to apply for Bermudian status.
The protestors have vowed to resume the work-stoppage on Monday.