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Nov 21, 2011

B.S.I.; Is it Union Busting?

Dylan Reneau

The newly elected executive of the Belize Workers Union whose membership owns majority shares in the financially embattled Belize Sugar Industries Ltd. is tonight at odds with the company‘s administration over what it considers a deliberate act of union busting.  On November eleventh, B.S.I.’s management reportedly issued a letter to its employees, including three recently chosen directors of the B.W.U., informing them that as of the beginning of December their hourly paid status will be transferred to staff positions.  Three days later BSI’s management issued another staff memo essentially reneging on its December first deadline, changing the status of its workers effective November sixteenth.  The factory’s management specified that with their new status those employees would no longer be able to participate in union activity, nullifying the roles of the three B.W.U. executives.  The National Trade Union Congress of Belize, the umbrella organization representing BWU, issued a press release today condemning the actions of BSI’s management.  According to the release, B.S.I. has violated several sections of the Trade Union Act in an effort to intentionally break up the B.W.U.  News Five spoke by phone with N.T.U.C.B. President Dylan Reneau who described BSI’s actions as calculated and malicious.

Dylan Reneau, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“Plain and simple it’s zero tolerance for this sort of behavior.  It is apparent that the management is trying to bust the union because the union president is one of those three workers affected by this move. We are aware of the transition that the sugar industry is going through and sometimes you have to look at these events, as we put it, calculated and malicious simply because they want to get rid of the union to probably make B.S.I. more lucrative to whomever the eventual owners will be and that is an angle that we certainly have to look at or view this latest action.”

Isani Cayetano

“What are the necessary steps to be taken in this particular case where the N.T.U.C.B. has now lent its support against what is happening at B.S.I.?

Dylan Reneau

“Well initially you will recall that the affiliate has already sent a letter to the tripartite body.  The N.T.U.C.B. has also done so.  Today we’ve dispatched a letter to the tripartite body requesting their intervention.  The affiliates are also planning some other solidarity actions to aid the B.W.U. in their efforts to try and rectify this matter. I think this is yet another litmus test for those in officialdom, those that regulate and oversee the laws of Belize, in particular the tripartite body.  We have to view these acts as crucial.  If they are allowed to continue unchallenged then it will be the modus operandi and certainly this can impact the already low density of the trade union movement.  So we have adopted this zero tolerance for any sort of trade union busting activities and we’ll ramp up our activity on any incidence of trade union busting.”

The National Trade Union Congress is appealing to its tripartite body to act judiciously and intervene in the situation.  Meanwhile its affiliates have been notified of the current situation and stand ready to act in the best interest of the B.W.U.

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1 Response for “B.S.I.; Is it Union Busting?”

  1. Ramon Cervantes says:

    As much as Mr. Reneau’s assessment of the reason for the union busting being to make BSI more lucrative for the potential buyer, may be valid, the real reason is to thwart and block the efforts of the farmers to acquire BSI. The evidence for this is the fact that only on October 21, 2011 had the affected directors of the union been newly elected. And the platform of their campaign was to give the farmers’ proposal a fair chance. This platform contrasted with that of the old and outgoing directors which was in favor of Banco Atlantida along with BSI management and GOB. I dare say that had the old directors of the BWU remained, there would not have been such transfers form hourly paid to staff of the affected direstors.

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