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Mar 29, 2007

Labour unions bring in high powered advisor

Story PictureTonight the local labour movement continues to complain that the terms of reference for an arbitration panel scheduled to investigate the firing of three employees of Belize Telecommunications Limited have yet to be released. According to officials of the Belize Communications Workers Union, the absence of the information has hampered their preparations for the tribunal. In Belize City this week to support the union is George Depeana, General Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, a regional body with which the B.C.W.U. is affiliated. This morning Depeana stopped by our studios to emphasise that the B.T.L. situation can hold lessons for all Belizean workers.

George DePeana, Gen. Sec., Caribbean Congress of Labour
“What is very important and what has to be looked at very carefully is that this kind of action by this employer is not replicated by other employers, so that it is a fundamental point that has to be clarified and very a critical one at that. And it is important that the record be straight from the outset and this is why the arbitration tribunal is very important.”

“Look, if there was a reason for dismissing these people, then there is a procedure and nothing of the sort is taking place, because under the conditions of the agreement, if a worker is guilty of some offence, there is a procedure, there is a charge against the person, there’s question of a warning, there is the question, if it is repeated, of suspension, and then there’s the question of termination. But to get up one morning without any justification and say I don’t want you at my working situation any more, that cannot be fair, that cannot be right, that cannot be just. And that is what we are fighting against and the ultimate that we want to see is the reinstatement of the workers and that justice prevails in the workplace in respect with the manner in which you deal with your workers.”

Janelle Chanona
“Can’t B.T.L. come back and say, look it’s my company, I paying these people, I should have some right in saying to say who I want working for me?”

George DePeana
“That right is constrained by the fact that there’s an agreement between somebody called the trade union and you the employer. … And if we have a dispute to refer to whatever are the mechanisms, either direct discussions, or through conciliation with the Ministry of Labour, or as in this case through arbitration. And I would want to take this opportunity to make a public appeal to the unions to take a good hard look at this situation. It is sort of warning signal and if it not pursued to its fullest by the union and through the union by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, then we will be in for some serious troubles. And this is also a wake up call to workers to support their unions and where there are not unions, to join unions to protect themselves from this kind of action which can be taken by unscrupulous employers.”

The Caribbean Congress of Labour is comprised of thirty affiliate members in the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean.

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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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