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Sep 29, 2015

B.E.L. Employees Threaten to Strike

Marvin Mora

Will there be nationwide blackouts in the jewel on Wednesday? It seems to be a possibility, since B.E.L. employees who are members of the Belize Energy Workers Union will be on strike. The announcement of that very drastic industrial action at the country’s only power provider came today from General Secretary of the B.E.W.U. Marvin Mora, twenty-four hours after the date for early elections was announced. The Union has been negotiating for an eight percent salary adjustment over the next four years. Mora told News Five in a midday press briefing that they have been meeting with Minister of Labour Godwin Hulse to find a satisfactory compromise with B.E.L.’s management, but that hasn’t been working out.

 

Marvin Mora, General Secretary, Belize Energy Workers Union

“Last night we worked until almost ten o’clock in Belmopan at his office to try and figure out what we were going to get, if anything. But BEL still holds on to their position. In essence there are certain increases to the cost of manpower that have to happen whether we have an agreement or not. In essence BEL is saying that their proposals are within those numbers so really and truly they are not giving us anything extra. It’s just what the status quo is. We were of the opinion that we had to take that back to our membership. We did, and membership suggested a strike tomorrow and it is over fifty percent of the union countrywide that has accepted that proposition so unless we get a resolution to our situation the union will have to effectuate that strike tomorrow.”

 

Reporter

“Give us an idea of numbers?”

 

Marvin Mora

“In terms of our numbers we are about one hundred and forty-seven, one hundred and forty-eight employees.”

 

Reporter

“Sir a strike by fifty percent of those employees in the union…give us an idea of the impact to BEL’s services.”

 

Marvin Mora

“Sure. We are not expecting half. Right now we have received confirmation from over eighty percent of the union. That means that because of how the unions operate we are expecting everybody else to comply. It’s either they stand with the union or they stand against the union…they stand with management. We are talking about the two major services that BEL provides – one is transmission and distribution and the other is customer service. So far we have received very much support from those areas which means that those areas will see little or no service.”

 

Reporter

“Sir should we expect blackouts tomorrow?”

 

Marvin Mora

“I wouldn’t think so. But it is something that may eventually happen because the very same people that go on strike, if it does happen, are the people who would turn on back the light if the light goes.”

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