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Jan 24, 2018

Did P.A.C.T. Mistreat P.S.U. Members? 2 Employees Made Redundant

Doreth Cayetano-Obermayer

There is a back and forth tonight between the Protected Areas Conservation Trust and the Public Service Union over the fate of six PACT employees who are also members of the Union. PACT closed its offices last week as part of a “restructuring exercise” following years of review, and invited employees to accept new contracts with expanded terms of reference. Despite PACT being a statutory body, staff members, like any worker in Belize, are allowed to join and have a trade union bargain on their behalf. The Union in a press release claims that two of its members were told that their posts were redundant and four others were summoned to sign contracts on Tuesday, at the risk of losing their jobs. It calls PACT’s behavior shabby treatment, and this evening P.S.U. president Doreth Cayetano-Obermayer expanded on why.

 

Doreth Cayetano-Obermayer, President, Public Service Union

“As it relates to getting information, the first letter that was received by the Public Service Union was on the tenth of January, and that speaks [to] basically the restructuring of the organization; from then we tried to get in contact with the officers that are Union members. After [that] we got in contact with three of them, and it was at that point that it was shared with us that some of the staff members were asked to come in, and during that time they indicated that they were explained [to about] the restructuring of the organization and also the fact that their service is terminated forthwith. That means they were supposed to go to their desk and take whatsoever belongs to them, their personal belongings, and leave whatsoever was there that belongs to PACT. After which they were given a week to decide whether they come back and sign a contract. Some of the officers were called and [were given explanation as to] whether they were going to be offered a post at PACT, or that their services were no longer necessary in that case. It was at that point that officers decided that they were in need of their job, so for those who were offered, they were summoned yesterday to come to the office and sign that contract or lose their job.”

 

According to Cayetano-Obermayer the two redundant staff members received all their ending benefits and severance and will not fight the decision. The Union will seek legal advice on challenging the status of the remaining four staff members. This evening PACT issued a statement stating that all its staff, including the Union members, voluntarily accepted their new contracts without coercion. PACT further states that none of the Union members indicated they wished to be represented by the Union, with which it says it has no agreement. Nonetheless, it claims it informed the Union of its transition process on January nineteenth and continues to be in dialogue with them. 

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