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Feb 24, 1998

Citrus workers go on strike against C.C.B.

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With prices barely beginning to recover from their lowest level in a decade the citrus industry was not in exactly great shape. Now there’s more bad news as one of the two processing companies, C.C.B., has been hit with a strike. According to James McFoy, President of the Christian Workers Union, around three hundred employees of the Citrus Company of Belize have walked off the job, after the company unilaterally cut wages.

James McFoy, President, Christian Workers Union

“The workers dissatisfied with the way management di treat them no, In terms ah em they di cut they wages when they feel like, how they feel like and ahm, intimidating the workers – telling them that union cannot do anything. As a matter of fact, some of the workers are only taking home ten dollars a day and have family to take care of and the condition they are working under: high bushes, climbing hills. And they complain about the condition of the of the place and they say that they should not have to work under that kind of condition. They are requesting better wage packet, no.”

Q: “How long has the dispute been going on?”

James McFoy

“Well, what actually happened to this place no, the situation is that we have a meeting here in Pomona last week Wednesday and tried to have an agreement because when we took over the union there was an agreement but ih expired on the 31 of September. We just took over the union along with that agreement, no, and hold on to the agreement. We did not negotiate it so they are saying to us that that agreement expired on that day and when it expired the agreement is null and void. In other words there is no document that the workers can say they are covered under and one dispute is that even though a new agreement is not signed that old agreement runs until the new agreement is signed. They are contesting that. And we took that to labor department and the labor commission went for an application no, into the matter and when it came out that date the current agreement is still enforced until a new agreement is signed they still do not want to honor that.”

McFoy also told News Five that police called to the scene appeared to be under control of the company and were intimidating workers who were peacefully picketing. It is understood that a shipment of frozen concentrate now being readied for export is being handled by private truckers along with supervisory staff. News Five was unable to reach C.C.B. management but it is understood that the company is willing to sit down and negotiate only after the workers return to the job.

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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