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Jan 4, 2011

National Transport woes; former employees want to be paid

The National Transport debacle is now in its sixth week. The bus company went into receivership late last year and its assets were repossessed the owners, Tony and David, were way behind in bank payments, as much as two years. Just before the Christmas break, the Labour Department could only account for eighty-three employees out of two hundred and seventy-five that the company claimed were on its pay roll. The eighty-three were paid but today others headed to the Labour Department claiming they are still owed two weeks salaries.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the latest on the ongoing dispute.

Hector McKoy, Supervisor, National Transport

“Tomorrow school open.  Wih children gwein dah school tomorrow [and] weh wih wah tell wih children wih noh got money fi give dehn.  Ah mean dah mawning when dehn children wake up and say daddy mek ah get lee money fi school weh ah wah tell dehn?  I noh have it, you know, I mean ih rough and ih dih get worse and worse.”

hector mckoy

Hector McKoy, a supervisor for National Transport Services Ltd., is among a list of employees whose jobs and salaries for work prior to the bus company going into receivership remains uncertain.  In early December assets belonging to brothers Tony and David Novelo, both owners of National Transport, were seized when their business went into insolvency since they had not paid bank debts for over two years.  Since then workers have found themselves between a rock and a hard place.  On one hand they do not have job security and on the other they are not sure, at this point, if they will be receiving back pay for two weeks labor which preceded the company’s seizure.

Philip Jones, Former Operations Manager, National Transport

“We all have responsibilities here.  We have commitments.  It’s six weeks now and its ongoing and I told them that we need to know.  We need some closure.  They either taken on the staff or who they will pay off to pay off, you know, and let the process continue or stop right now and just pay us.”

Despite meeting with officials from the Labor Department this morning to get to the bottom of the issue Jones and his men walked away empty handed, disappointed that their efforts to arrive at an amicable solution went nowhere.  Like the others, McKoy has been looking for employment elsewhere.

Hector McKoy

“I am a well known man but still job haad fi find right now, you know.  Job really haad [fi find].  So ih really, really rough right now.  Yoh cyant say well you gwein out deh go geh wah job because job deh out deh.  Job haad fi find right now.”

While some may have already began job hunting the majority are undecided and are looking to their former operations manager to determine their next step.

Philip Jones

philip jones

“Whatever it takes to do peacefully we need to do that to ensure that everyone gets their benefits and their pay.  No one left out and if we have to go in front of Belize Bank we will do it peacefully.  We will get the permits and we will do so gentlemen.  Are you with me?  I don’t know how you stand but this is the position and we have to make noise and that’s the only way things get done in Belize.”

The attempt at pepping up his deflated colleagues comes at a time where money and job security is needed most.  They survived Christmas without salaries or bonuses but today there is no telling how they will manage the magga season.

Hector McKoy

“Hopefully we get weh we deserve, you know, that’s all I want.  I have nothing fi say, hopefully we get weh we need because I mean we deserve it, you know.”

On December twenty-fourth the company’s receiver Kevin Castillo requested that the Transport Department reinstate its bus runs but that application was denied based on the fact that temporary road permits had already been granted to other operators.

Philip Jones

“If they will resume the run call back the workers and give them something to do.  You see all these workers have nothing to do and it’s very important that we try to restore some jobs and save some jobs.  I will be very happy if they can call back the workers and start to run.”

A meeting had since been arranged between Castillo and Chief Transport Officer, Gareth Murillo to discuss the matter; however, Murillo was unavailable for comment today. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

In the court meanwhile, the Novelo brothers are asking the court to strike out the judicial review case for National Transport and the Transport Board. They are also challenging the 2008 injunction which reduced the number of routes on the company and which the attorneys argue led to the receivership.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “National Transport woes; former employees want to be paid”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    Is it possible that the almost 200 employees who are unaccounted for worked for one of the other Novelo Companies and didn’t know? What do these men have to show that they worked for the company? Does anyone have a recent pay stub, a statement of earnings, anything that ties them to the company or were they paid under the table to avoid paying taxes?

    Something smells & it’s probably not the bad note the bank is holding.

  2. Sugar says:

    While i emphatize with the workers out of jobs…they need to understand that the general public has NO regards for anything that says Novelo or national. Novelos has ripped us big-time and he will be remembered for that and no one will shed tears for them. I just hope the Labour people ensure that the employees get what they deserve

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