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Dec 19, 2014

N.T.U.C.B. Says ASR Can’t Be Trusted

ASR/B.S.I. cannot be trusted! That’s the principal message coming from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize to the sugar cane farmers up north in respect of the ongoing crisis. The umbrella organization is saying that the agreement proposed by ASR/B.S.I. is oppressive and unfair and undermines the cane farmers, who are the bedrock of the sugar industry. In a very strong release issued earlier today, the N.T.U.C.B. says that ASR/B.S.I. wants to replace the Sugar Industry Control Board with its own regulatory body, the Harvesting Delivery and Control Unit; and that is in contravention of the law. It’s an attempt, says the N.T.U.C.B. release, to “control and disenfranchise the farmers.” It goes on to say that cane farmers are being forced to sign off on an agreement that is “compounded by the complicity of the government and its political directorate.” The N.T.U.C.B. is also advising the eighteen directors of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association not to sign any agreement and to keep negotiation going. While some of the reps heading up north, we caught up with the vice president, Marvin Mora, here in the city.

 

Marvin Mora, 2ndVice President, N.T.U.C.B.

Marvin Mora

“If you would take a poll right now of how many people in the country believe that the points of agreement that have been released to the media between ASR and the Cane Farmers Association are very beneficial to the cane farmers, I’m sure that you would be overwhelmed by those who would say that none of those are beneficial to the cane farmers. We find it really ironic that in their last press release, the government has been pointing out to something that is contrary. They are saying that since all of the parties are being consulted, then everything is honky dory. That is not the case. We know that one of the greatest strengths that the cane farmers association has is the ability to negotiate in good faith and with leverage. That being said, when you look at what they are proposing and the issues in contention here—not only bagasse cause bagasse is only one of them, but there are about four points that they discuss—you can clearly see that it is not in favor of the cane farmers. We’re not only here to save the industry yo know…we are trying to save the industry and the cane farmers. We know that ASR, B.S.I. is not the first company that they have bought. They are multinational and they are in the business of making money. But you see that’s the reason why trade unionists are people that are always in compromising positions, contentious for the lack of a better word because we represent people’s issues which at some point goes against profit margin. So whenever you are dealing with any company that comes from foreign and wants to invest in the country, there must be a balance that has to be struck between the people’s issues and the profit margin. So when we look at it, we are looking at it from that angle, realizing that at the end of the day, what they are setting is foundation so that they can eventually take over the industry because they have done that in other places.”

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