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Sep 22, 2015

CWU Supports BCWU in Settlement Concerns

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

As we reported on Friday, the Belize Communication Workers Union, in a scathing release issued following the settlement of the B.T.L. nationalization, soundly criticized the Barrow administration, as well as the management of the telecommunications company.  The BCWU also lashed out against the prime minister’s son, Anwar Barrow, who chairs the executive committee of B.T.L., for not informing them of the pending announcement of the settlement.  The negotiations, according to the union, did not include employees of the company who are listed as shareholders under the Sunshine Trust.  In the wake of that BCWU release, sister unions, including the Christian Workers Union have lent their unequivocal support.  This evening, CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd reiterated the union’s position on the manner in which the settlement was announced.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, Christian Workers Union

“I think in fairness, if the government genuinely wanted to move forward, they could not have ignored the interest of the employees. And another factor with the employees you have to notice, at the end of the day, even though the government is fronting the initial money, it will come out of the money of B.T.L.  That has an impact on shareholders who were never consulted as to how this agreement will go. And it will have the impact on workers because then it means that they will go into negotiation on CBAs as well. And with that burden of a payment—because it is a burden of a payment—Mister Ashcroft has gotten away with a handsome amount—whether people want to admit it or not. There is six years interests that’s not coming out of the government pocket who made the mistake to not settle it six years earlier; it is going to come out of B.T.L. and there is an unknown still amount o be paid in addition to the hundred and sixty-two million dollars. People don’t want to see the figures; this got sprang on them…they just said anything and in solidarity with them, CWU knows what it is to have parliament use to disadvantage the workers because we just went through it the other day with the Vesting Act. So we feel their pain and we’re glad that they are taking a stand and we take a stand with them and we hope that other unions can do the same. And that although he law has been pushed through and the settlement clearly by the agreement Mister Ashcroft, the Good Samaritan, forced the hand of government that by the eighteenth of September this was a fait accompli, that although that happen, this dialogue has to go on. This can never happen again under any other government. These are the very things that the previous government did – that they did things unknown, without the consultation of the people. They’ve done it and what are they doing now? Oh, because we have disclosed it, it makes it less offensive. It is still offensive. It comes up yours is just legitimized what the others have done, but you have just done it in a more suave and sophisticated manner. So we stand in solidarity with them as fellow trade unionists and we hope that they are able to pressure internally. And I’m glad that they also broke the silence because everybody got the impression that all was well at B.T.L., but we see now the nepotism and how it has really affected them. And so it is an ongoing development.”

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