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Sep 22, 2015

Matura-Shepherd Says PM to Blame for FCIB Employee Action

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

The recent passage of the Vesting Act to enable the buyout of FCIB calls to question the timeliness of the negotiations between the union and the management of the bank.  Following the lengthy meeting, Matura-Shepherd told the media that had the prime minister acted in good faith, the ensuing action by employees of FCIB could have been prevented.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, Christian Workers Union

“At this point, I think what would be proper to say is that we had a very productive three hours meeting. The Labor Commissioner served as a mediator, I would say. We ironed out certain details and the good news is that now we are prepared to actually start negotiations. I think that we won’t go into discussion of details, what are differences, but rather that we’ve actually plotted a way forward and we are looking forward to genuine good faith negotiations especially since our employees are still adamant about where they stand.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now with the passing of the Vesting Act recently and the PM mentioning that it won’t be signed until you guys have ironed out the details, so to speak. Where does the union stand with regards to that, in light of today’s progress?”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“Let me tell you, for us at the level of the union is very simple…only what is in black and white matters. If the prime minister genuinely wanted that to be part of the law, he could have amended it there and then before he sends it to the senate and it could have been then part of the legislation of the Vesting Act that he now puts an additional condition; that nothing can be done until the interest of the employees are taken care of. He did not do that. So I am glad that he said it as a…at large indication. But it is not a promise and sometimes promises are for just fools. It’s not in writing. But that said, now the union clearly has to look after the interest of the workers and so what we are doing is we are trying to negotiate in good faith to make sure we get what would be right for the workers at the end of the day. It is, we believe, that the Vesting Act is a leverage for the bank already, for both banks. We can’t undo that; clearly those were powers beyond us. But from our end, the right thing for us to do is to update our members with all that has taken place, giving them details that we cannot give to you all and for us to then remain optimistic that the bank genuinely wants to ensure that when they leave Belize, they don’t leave with a bad name. And they don’t just look at the employees like oh, just another sixty employees, but sixty head of households. We’ve said that many times and we want people to put a face to the reality of sixty head of households who are earning for their families and all of whom have financial obligations and especially who also have loans with the banks. So we are just being practical at this point to make sure that whatever we do, we try and keep their best interest because at the end of the day, clear cut, it is only the union that will look out at the interest. They are our members and that’s our job.”

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