B.E.L. Workers Union’s final call for negotiation with Company
The time to buy candles or check your lanterns for kerosene may be very soon at hand. The grievances filed by the Belize Energy Workers Union (B.E.W.U.) against Belize Electricity Limited (B.E.L.) is at a stalemate. A week ago, B.E.W.U. showed its sincerity to impose any option available to bring the electricity company to the bargaining table with a demonstration packed with workers, essential to the stability of the company. It was a peaceful lunch time demonstration but the union sat down once more this afternoon to give an update on the situation which includes three employees who were allegedly terminated without due process; apprentice linesmen whose status it believes is dubious, and to save the positions held by plant operators who were assigned to B.E.L.’s gas turbine generating unit. It’s both what they said today and more importantly where they delivered their message that may have B.E.L. scrambling for government intervention. Much like former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s corollary to the Monroe Doctrine; the union also spoke softly and carried a big stick. The afternoon’s press conference was delivered from the office of the Public Service Union with National Trade Union Congress of Belize Representatives fully present, including its most vocal, the teacher’s union. But the big stick union reps. sat quietly and allowed B.E.W.U to voice what may be its last attempt to bargain before the lights go out.
Marvin Mora, President, Belize Energy Workers Union
“It is a legal issue, but it is also a labor issue. The union considers all options, puts all options on the table; however, the option that we have on hand is to include this like we’ve done on the list of demands. Industrial action is never too far away from the mouth of unionists. We have to speak about it because sometimes that is the only recourse that the unions have that is effective and efficient. I know that the public may be alarm when we say industrial action, but it is well within our rights. And we have certain processes that we have to go through and exhaust those processes until we reach to that end.”
Dale Trujeque, Warlord for Workers
“It is clear that there is a written contract for four years during which the company promised to train these men and make them certified linesmen—these workers have to study etc. The consideration the worker provides is to use the training to do the work—work that is very essential for the good image of this company. The workers have kept their side; there have been breaches of the contract because you now want to make them redundant—or you don’t want to renew or extend them. But you have already gotten some of them trained, but there are a few of them who have not completed the training. The company has an obligation in the contract; it is a breach of the contract to complete training. It is wrong. But then there is also the other side that the public must ask; the company has invested a good sum of money to train these people. Which company would train people at an international standard to do the work these men do and then four years later say, I don’t want you; I don’t need you? To me it speaks to inefficiency; it speaks to somebody not having done the proper man-power study needy to make the company function effectively.”
Sean Nicholas, Vice President, Belize Energy Workers Union
“In the case of the union busting aspect of this between B.E.L. and the Union, the company has invited the union to a meeting; yet after the union accept invitation to the meeting, they went ahead and send the employees letters of redundancy. Also we accepted for us to meet and they also go ahead meeting the employees; discussing the union. All this happened after company had said it would meet with the union to discuss our points of contention.Email This Story