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Apr 15, 2005

No B.T.L. services; employees demand control

Story PictureIt was a frustrating day for anyone trying to use land lines, cellular phones, faxes, or internet because of a protest by some B.T.L. employees who effectively shutdown the entire system from early this morning. They are protesting the return of either Jeffrey Prosser’s Belize Telecom personnel or any belonging to Sir Michael Ashcroft’s E-COM and insisting that Belizeans like the Sunrise Group of Investors be given the opportunity to run B.T.L. Police and officials from B.T.L. spent the day trying to resolve the situation and late this evening, despite barricades and locked gates, Commissioner of Police Gerald Westby and Head of Eastern Division, Crispin Jeffreys, escorted Public Utility Commission Chairman Gilbert Canton into the building where they are still reported to be inside, ostensibly trying to negotiate the revival of service with whoever is responsible for taking it down. While no union representatives, including President of the Belize Communication Workers Union, Paul Perriott, would speak with News Five, we did speak with some B.T.L. workers in the compound about the dispute.

B.T.L. Employee
?There are many people that need the service. Phone in this state right now is a necessity. However, with necessities and the up comings and things that di happen right now as weh the government have we right now, you find out that some people have to make a stand. The Teacher?s Union made a stand and they get certain things, but when you look on it, we as Belizeans we have nothing to look out for. And it?s kinda messed up that three aspects right now di hambug we: physically we can?t move around because economically no jobs deh, so you find more crimes deh. Psychologically also if you look into it, it?s impossible to make a person think because what di happen is if you want to do certain things you can?t do it because you have this strain of job security. Our jobs are not secure and nothing secure right now, so you find out that all kinds of things di happen. Most people right now would want to go home because it?s already five o?clock and most people would want to do other things and there are some people who are serious about the job and like the job, they would want to do certain things, but they can?t do what they want because if we don?t make a stand now it?ll be worse and we noh want it to be worse. We are trying to get it peacefully. Other people di support we, ninety-five percent of the community di support we, I di talk about the whole country of Belize. And we just hope for the best.?

Jacqueline Woods
?What has been the atmosphere like inside the compound all day?

B.T.L. Employee
?Well I can?t speak about the compound because I work in the field, but then around my colleagues you could see the strain, everybody deh bout the strain and it?s a whole lot of pressure pan people.?

Jacqueline Woods
?Bottom line, what is it that the workers want??

B.T.L. Employee
?The workers want what they due, if somebody get something from credit, why we can?t get it from credit also? Dah just fairness we di ask, we noh the ask for nothing but fairness.?

Jacqueline Woods
?How long do you believe the service will be down??

B.T.L. Employee
?Well I noh deh inna the point to say, but I wish the service to be down until we get what we want, in my point of view.?

B.T.L. Employee #2
?Ninety-five percent of the country is with us, with B.T.L.; that is why we have to make a stand. We can?t back down right now.?

At news time, there was still no service and word circulated by some of the union activist was that it was going to be down “indefinitely.” We will have more on this story on Monday’s newscast.

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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