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May 27, 2004

Union makes new proposal in sugar talks

There are signs of movement tonight in the ongoing labour dispute in the sugar industry. Union and company sources have confirmed to News 5 that at a meeting held today between representatives of Belize Sugar Industries and the Belize Workers Union a new offer was put on the table by the B.W.U. Abandoning its proposal for a five percent wage hike for tradesmen, three percent for skilled workers, and a one time two percent bonus for labourers, the union has now proposed an across the board four percent one time bonus for all workers. The difference between a salary increase and bonus is an important one for management, in that it does not constitute a permanent cost that the company must bear and compound in the future. For workers, it means that they would get the money they want, but would leave future payments dependent on the industry’s ups and downs. The two sides have scheduled a meeting for next Thursday at which time B.S.I. will respond to the proposal. The sugar company has steadfastly clung to a declaration of a one-year wage freeze, citing several years of losses and a bleak future for sugar on the world market. However, it would be possible for B.S.I. to grant a bonus without abandoning its wage freeze policy. If the company does respond positively to the bonus proposal, it is not expected to reach the four percent requested by the union.

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