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Sep 30, 2015

B.E.W.U. Signs Memorandum of Understanding with B.E.L. Management

There were no blackouts today and B.E.L. employees were on the job, despite threats of a nationwide strike. Disaster was averted because of a last minute intervention by Prime Minister Dean Barrow Tuesday evening. That led to a capitulation by B.E.L. management and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding late today which effectively signals the end of increasingly hostile negotiations and hopefully a firm agreement within the next few weeks. The Belize Energy Workers Union General Secretary, Marvin Mora, told News Five that following the meeting with the PM, union reps headed up to Belmopan on Tuesday night to meet with Minister of Labour, Godwin Hulse, to hammer out an agreement on salaries and benefits in a session which lasted until three this morning.

 

Marvin Mora, General Secretary, BEWU

“The first item we agreed upon was the across the board increase. We had requested a two percent, but the Minister even in mediation had suggested one point seven-five percent yearly for the next four years which would sum up around seven percent. The union was flexible from then and we figured that we couldn’t have continued being inflexible if we wanted a solution, so we did accept the one point seven-five percent yearly increase across the board. That’s the first one. The second one was that all our increases that are related to appraisal performance results remain as well, and the third one was the increase in terms of the matching on behalf of the company with our pension so it was taken from six percent maximum up to ten percent.”

 

Marvin Mora

Reporter

“That is what was agreed to. Explain to me your night at the Ministry of Labour and how it ended.”

 

Marvin Mora

“It was tough because at first we did not understand what was taking so long but obviously we were dealing with a lot of back and forth probably between the Minister, people on the Board, the management, the Prime Minister and so forth and so everybody had to synchronize as to what was happening. Eventually management walked out—or the person they had there representing—we are not sure what happened. But the agreement was in essence between the government of Belize and the trade union…the government of Belize being the owner in a sense of the company. So that’s where we stand. We thought at that time that it was better to have that than to have nothing at all and to come back and to start at square one.”

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