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May 13, 2009

Belize Energy Workers Union accuses B.E.L. of union busting

Story PictureThere is more trouble for B.E.L., and it is not coming from the P.U.C. This time it’s from the Belize Energy Workers Union that is fighting with the utility company over a series of issues and it is not ruling out a nationwide shutdown. Last week B.E.L.’s Corporate Communications Manager, Dawn Sampson told News Five that because of a decision to close down its Magazine Road plant, it had to terminate the services of six employees. But Sampson added that B.E.L. had also helped the six employees to land jobs elsewhere. Today President of the B.E.W.U., Sean Nicholas, accused Sampson of lying, and B.E.L. of union-busting. Nicholas said they have asked the Ministry of Labour to intervene.

Voice of Sean Nicholas, President, B.E.W.U.
”We meet with the Labour yesterday afternoon and the Labour explained to us that he is trying his best to get B.E.L. around the table for us to at least dialogue. He explained that if B.E.L. fails to dialogue, he will write to the Minister of Labour and explain to him that it is out of his hands and it is for the Minister of Labour to see what he could do.”

Marion Ali
“But what were the concerns that you have as a Union?”

Sean Nicholas
”We have four major concerns which was forwarded to the Labour Commissioner and these concerns stem from last year. One is the termination of Union negotiators and trustee, Cheryl Cuthkelvin, during the time of negotiation. Two is the termination and the closure of the plant which led to six employees got terminated, two of which is executive. Third is the suspension of the Union auditor – illegal suspension for coming late – they suspend him outside of the P.C.A. for seven days. And because he had a warning letter fourteen years ago for coming late they see it that they did not need to warn him, they suspend him. And fourth is a breach in the Collective Agreement as it deals with wages.”

Marion Ali
”Are you saying that Dawn Sampson lied to me last week when she said that B.E.L. helped these people to find jobs elsewhere?”

Sean Nicholas
”Obviously Ms. Dawn statement to you is false because two of the six employees who were terminated is presently not employed. The employees and the members of the Belize Energy Workers’ Union recognize that we are essential services and we will exercise all avenues before resorting to industrial action. Therefore we are restraining ourself from put the country and the employees and the consumer at risk.”

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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