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Sep 14, 2015

P.M. Barrow Responds to CWU on Pending Sale of FCIB Assets

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

On Friday, employees of First Caribbean International Bank, those belonging to the Christian Workers Union, staged a mass sickout disrupting the flow of business across various branches.  In Belize City, the BelCan branch, as well as Orange Walk and Belmopan were closed for the day, while the Albert Street and Dangriga branches ran on skeleton staff.  On Tuesday, government will formally approve the sale of FCIB to Heritage Bank with the passage of the Vesting Act.  According to CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd, during a recent press conference, all parties involved in the sale of the bank’s assets have temporized the process and with the conclusion of the sale now imminent, its staff has been left in the dark.  Today, P.M. Barrow responded with a scathing criticism of the CWU’s leadership.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The Christian Workers Union’s leadership is either dense or dishonest or actually I think both.”

 

Reporter

“You mean Mrs. Matura?”

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“You know who the leadership is?  Sir, it turns out that the collective bargaining agreement that the workers, the staff, at the FCIB had lapsed a year and a half ago.  I think just around the time that the CWU saw new leadership taking over. Despite numerous invitations from the bank to the CWU to submit proposals so that the negotiating process over a new collective bargaining agreement could have begun, for well over a year, the CWU did not respond.  Similar to what’s happening at the Port or what’s happened at the Port.  When the CWU leadership finally responded, it was something like two to three weeks before the sale of FCIB to Heritage was announced. If they had responded when they were supposed to have, no doubt there would have been a new CBA in existence and we would not have anything like the difficulties that we are facing. So that union must not try to make a virtue of incompetence; that union must not use its own default to try to politically pressure government into not discharging its obligation with respect to a situation that affects the banking industry in which two independent, private, commercial entities have concluded a sale.”

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