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Apr 30, 2015

Labor Commissioner Updates on Santander Employees

Two weeks ago, about forty workers at the Santander Green Tropics facility staged a small protest at the compound, citing chronic concerns which they say remained unaddressed by management. Over five hundred Belizeans are employed at the company, so those concerns prompted a visit by the Labour Department. Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams told News Five that he met with four hundred Belizean employees a week ago to hear their concerns. The Department is taking the matter seriously…so much so that no representative of Santander was allowed into that meeting specifically so there could be no interference.

 

Ivan Williams, Labour Commissioner

“I got a number of concerns from them which we are addressing. A majority of the concerns, I can say, has to do with their interpretation of what their rights are and what the law is, so I could have dealt with those, which I had discussions back and forth with persons who raised them. Of course there were a few issues which we have to take back to management to hear their side because there’s always more than one side to a story.”

 

Ivan Williams

Reporter

“Some of the things that we have heard out there is overtime. The workers have been complaining about overtime, the hours they are required to work before and after regular working hours. They’ve also been complaining about food and their working conditions. Are those some of the concerns you have heard?”

 

Ivan Williams

“As we speak the company is fully cooperating. They have given us access to their records. We are looking at their calculations of wages, particularly overtime. That is not completed as yet. As we speak two of my officers are working on those records to see how they have calculated wages because of the concerns raised by the workers is that they believe they have not been paid right. So that should finish in a day or two, in terms of looking at their methods of calculation and if there is any wrong then we will have to address that in terms of what the employees are owed, and we have made that very clear to the employer. The concern with respect to food…that issue was raised with management. I think it’s a cafeteria run by a private individual under contract, and one of the concerns raised was the menu. There seems to be a repeated menu, and the company did agree with us that they would take it up with the service provider, so on our next visit we’ll look to see how that went. There’s also an issue in respect to a mess room for storage of their food, and I think they said they would address that immediately, which means putting their food and bags in a particular area where it is safe and…especially in the sun, the hot summer, if you don’t store your food properly it spoils easily and it can lead to food poisoning and other things.”

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