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Jul 20, 2015

B.E.L. Employees Take to the Street in Protest of Salary Adjustment

While the K.H.M.H. staff continued its’ go-slow well into the afternoon, at midday the Belize Energy Workers Union commenced its own industrial action against the principals of B.E.L.   A little over twenty employees began a peaceful protest in front of the corporate office on the Northern Highway, placards in hand, expressing their disdain for the manner in which management has treated their request for an eight percent salary increase and other benefits.  The increase being sought is to be covered on an incremental basis of two percent per annum for four years.  The B.E.W.U.’s action follows a collapse in collective bargaining, charging that the company can afford to meet the requirements of its employees, in light of paying out significant dividends at the end of a successful fiscal cycle.  According to B.E.W.U. President, Marvin Mora, the union isn’t asking for too much that the company cannot honor.

 

Marvin Mora

Marvin Mora, President, B.E.W.U.

“Well, it’s a small, peaceful demonstration that we had organized today, for today tomorrow and Wednesday against the principals of the company as we were in collective bargaining and we could not reach an agreement, you know.  In essence, I think the frustration is because we have not negotiated for the past seven years and for the past five years we have not received any increases across the board.  All the increases that we have received are basically in line with our appraisal system.  So if you do have a good performance then you get something, if you don’t well you don’t get anything.  That’s basically what it is.”

 

Reporter

“Okay, so you all have been in talks for months now.  Is it, are you all at the point where talks have completely broken down?  I had heard that mediation was underway.”

 

Marvin Mora

“Mediation has not even started.  We are at a point where we realize that mediation won’t work for many reasons, right, for many reasons.  I think that we’ve had enough experience at mediation and we realize that what we are trying to achieve is not, what we are trying to make the government agree with us is not that far from what they are proposing.  Actually, in essence what we did for us to come close to an agreement we dropped our proposals and we took all of management’s proposals and we tell them we’ll take these proposals and add to it a salary increase across the board of eight percent which is four years at two percent per year.  And then management refused to agree to that and they came back and they said okay we’ll agree to that but they gave us conditions and those conditions in the eyes of the union are conditions that the union cannot meet because they are asking too much of us for a little raise.  Basically, it’s two conditions: one, we have an agreement that with B.E.L. where the company allows us to take a sick day for one day.  If you feel bad well you just call in and say you feel bad, I can’t come to work.  You don’t have to produce a medical certificate, but the company is saying that they don’t want us to continue doing that and they basically put it as a condition in order for them to give us what we are requesting from them. We believe that it is the right thing for the company to do to increase our benefits, to increase our salaries.  And if you look at the profits and the things that the company has paid out already, shares eighty-seven percent increase in shares and bringing down customers’ bills all the way down to forty-seven percent over the past three years and we have not received nothing for the past five years in terms of an across the board increase, an across the board benefit then the union believes it is the right thing for the company to do.”

 

Mora, who is also the president of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, told the media that the umbrella organization has been apprised of the goings-on at B.E.L., following the breakdown in bargaining.  The N.T.U.C.B. is yet to issue a release on that matter.

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