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Aug 4, 2014

Garbage Everywhere, BML Employees Take It To City Hall

The U.D.P. held a successful convention on Sunday attracting throngs of voters. That story is coming up, but among those who went out to support Mayor Bradley’s ticket, were employees of the Belize Maintenance Limited. This morning when they presented themselves to work, more than forty employees heard that they had lost their jobs because the company could not afford to continue to hire them due to a one point four million dollar debt owed by City Hall. The news that the workers had been left jobless resulted in an unplanned protest in which they dumped garbage on the street in front of City Hall and all the way to the police station where they were soon escorted by the police. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Janice Flores, BML Employee

Janice Flores

“I feel frustrated and embarrassed as a single parent because dah noh anybody would like to do this sanitation job.  I have to wake up from Mahogany Heights three-thirty everyday to come to Belize to face this everyday and da dis we wah hyah at our meeting this morning, ih noh mek no sense at all.”

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The littered street in front of City Hall this morning, the staging area for an impromptu demonstration led by disgruntled employees of Belize Maintenance Limited, succeeded a brief meeting at the company office where management announced that BML will be operating on a skeleton staff going forward.  The decision is the result of the Belize City Council’s inability to honor an existing contract with the sanitation concern to keep the streets clean.

 

Delroy Herrera

Delroy Herrera, Activist for BML Employees

“This right ya eena mi hand, wahn Emperador lime biscuit and wahn chicken sausage, ah noh know if da Picnic or da Vienna but dis da weh di workers from BML right now give me inside, seh dis dah dehn breakfast weh dehn have da mawnin because di money weh dehn have dehn haffi leff home fi dehn pickney from dehn come out six o’clock da mawnin. It’s a shame.”

 

Unfortunately, it is the plight of many indigent workers hired by the company.  While BML is owed substantially for approximately eighteen weeks of garbage collection, its staff, men and women who toil daily to make an honest living, is most vulnerable since the agreement will not be renewed in 2015.

 

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

Darrell Bradley

“In relation to the non-renewal of that contract, that is the city council’s position.  Those people don’t work for us, I’m very mindful of the scarcity of jobs in our society.  We are mindful that whatever decision we make affects human beings but what happened this morning proves the point that I’ve always made that those sanitation contracts are a blight on the city council and it’s really causing a, it’s really incapacitating on us and it’s hampering our ability to really discharge our functions.”

 

Shortly before ten o’clock, the angry throng made its way by bus to North Front Street.  Moments later, several workers proceeded to discharge refuse, which had been bagged and collected sometime earlier, from the rear of the garbage truck.  This would be the start of a fiery confrontation, as law enforcement would be summoned to the scene.

 

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Deputy O.C., Eastern Division

“Weh unu di do ya, unu have wahn illegal gathering ya and unu di litter di street, right.  Just because unu di fight fi unu rights no means unu wah bruk di law doing so.  Young man, yoh done di do wahn illegal gathering alright.  Yoh done di do wahn illegal gathering and unu litter di street, soh ah di ask unu fu pick up dis garbage and unu disperse.”

 

Edward Broaster

That spectacle regrettably unfolded before dozens of tourists making their way to the nearby water taxi terminal; employees of City Hall gawking from above.

 

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster

“Delroy Herrera: These workers out here have no representation.  Dehn noh have no Christian Workers Union behind dehn, dehn noh have no COLA behind dehn, dehn noh have no teachers union behind dehn, dehn noh have ROC behind dehn.  As wahn activist bredda, I stand up out ya fi dehn people ya soh, I stand up long side dehn people ya so, solidarity wid dehn people ya.  Dehn bredda di play wid man bread up deh.”

 

For some, the bitter resentment, in spite of the fact that the city council’s garbage woes preceded Sunday’s political convention, is knowing that they voted to have the mayor and his team return to office to clean up the mess.

 

Disgruntled Employee

“Ah gaan and ah vote fi di mayor yesterday and dis da weh ih do to me, got me outta wahn job todeh. Dat noh right.  Da weh wrong with this mayor ya and ah still put ahn up deh.  Ah gaan vote fi ahn now ih wahn shet down my boss.  If he shet down my boss ih shet down me.  How my pickney dehn wahn eat?  How dehn gwein back da school?”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What’s the feeling today, I know you mentioned that you feel embarrassed that it has to come to this.  But, again, how does it feel to be in a position where you don’t know where your next check is coming from and you have a family to take care of?”

 

Janice Flores

“That is so sad because I don’t know where the next check is going to come from.  So sad.”

 

The contract, says Mayor Bradley, has become the bane of the City Hall’s existence.

 

Darrell Bradley

“We are thankful that BML’s contract will expire and we will move into a different direction.  I think that what happened this morning is very unfortunate.  We are trying our best to communicate with the leadership of the organization.  We’ve been in communication with the police in terms of ensuring additional security at the premises here and we have people on standby who will clean up the trash and different things like that as soon as the police have done their investigations, taking photographs and different things like that but it is unfortunate.  I expect that the situation may get a little bit more tense as we draw nearer to the expiration date of that contract.”

 

The mob was subsequently escorted by police mobile to Precinct Three where forty-five or so employees were detained and charged for littering. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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1 Response for “Garbage Everywhere, BML Employees Take It To City Hall”

  1. renkus junkus says:

    Despite the rough nature the police are known for, I have to give respect to Broaster. He was fair and just when explaining to the protesters that they had broken the law. There was no use of force.

    Police 1: Garbage Pail Protesters 0

    I would like to see your reaction if someone came and throw garbage in your house…Belize is MY HOUSE and I took offense to that. You think its ok what they did? Have someone smear a dirty diaper on the walls of your house and then let us see how calm you are. Let us see how fast you call for the police.

    So the people cleaning the streets have breakfast to eat…not necessarily the breakfast of champions but they have something to eat. The “Sausage & Garbage” Stunt seems to detract from the overall picture, the contract was a sham and BML knows it. $78,000 a week!!! If we can reduce it by $25,000 a week the city will have $1.3 million to invest into the city, I would show you the benefits of it but its covered under all this garbage :)

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