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Feb 26, 1999

B.E.L. union concerned about divestment

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While WASA employees are feeling satisfied with their new benefits, B.E.L. employees are feeling uncertain about their future. The Belize Energy Workers’ Union, B.E.W.U. and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, N.T.U.C.B., are asking for an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Said Musa, Minister of Public Utilities, Maxwell Samuels and Minister of Finance, Ralph Fonseca. According to Eduardo Melendez, the President of the N.T.U.C.B., the unions are concerned that they were not advised about government’s impending sale and divestment of shares in the company. The government and the Social Security Board hold seventy percent of the shares. Melendez says while a meeting was held between the Prime Minister, the Minister of Labour Jose Coye and the Attorney General Dickie Bradley in December the subject of discussion at that time was whether employees would receive their years of service payment due before Belize Electricity Board became B.E.L. Melendez says Musa gave his assurance he would look into the matter. However, recent developments have lead employees to wonder about this payment and their futures with the company. They are now calling on all parties concerned to inform them of what is likely to occur. When News Five spoke with Minister Max Samuels he was not yet aware of the meeting but said B.E.L. employees have nothing to worry about.

Maxwell Samuels, Minister of Public Utilities

“I can restate the fact that government is committed to privatizing the Belize Electricity Limited but in doing so all the concerns of the workers will be taken into consideration before any deal is concluded.”

Q: “Will the employees’ security at B.E.L. be affected in any way?”

Maxwell Samuels

“I should not think so because there would be no closing down; there would be a sort of continuity except that there would likely be new management. But the workers need not worry, be not unduly concerned about what government’s action will be because the workers’ interests will be taken fully into consideration.”

The meeting is scheduled for Monday morning at the Magazine Road compound.

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