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Nov 5, 2009

Workplace policy to prevent HIV discrimination

Story PictureThe number of HIV/AIDS cases continues to rise in the Jewel and stands at over four thousand; it is estimated that between seven to eight persons die monthly from the disease. This worrisome trend has prompted the Labour Department to encourage organizations to implement a workplace policy that protects employees from discrimination. Over twenty companies have signed up and they met today at the Coastal Zone Management office to bring out new ideas on how to treat employees that are afflicted. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting
Organizations countrywide are getting on board with the HIV workplace Policy Program, coordinated by the Labour Department. The companies that have already signed on are meeting at the Coastal Zone Management office for a refresher course for peer educators.

Hertha Gentle-Barber, Sr. Labour Officer, Labour Department
“The groups are working on making plans that they can use within their organizations, about how they roll out their programs, how they get it going for those who have been in a little lull. And for those who are just getting started, they are getting advice on the challenges that they may face, different things that they can use within their own organizations. Today’s event is very important because we need to make sure that after we’re done training with people, that people don’t feel like they are out there on their own. And we need to make sure that the information we’ve presented remains very fresh in their minds and that the information they present to their people are accurate information.”

The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) also used today’s activity to officially become a member of the program, with the signing of its workplace policy.

Ian Rosado, HIV Policy Focal Point, Citrus Growers Association
“CGA realized that HIV in the workplace is a very critical issue and we in the geographic hotspot in Belize, in the Stann Creek District, we needed to safeguard the rights of our staff.”

Delahnie Bain
“What does your policy entail?”

Ian Rosado
“We don’t tolerate discrimination and stigma, care and support and the other ILO code of practice.”

Hertha Gentle-Barber
“CGA has been working with us since 2003, but from those inside, they were the only company who didn’t have a policy in place. So today they decided that they were going to sign on. So everybody in there have policies. I think among them are Grace Kennedy, we have Citrus Products of Belize Limited and we also have people who came from Belize City Council and Belmopan City Council and Cahal Pech Resort in San Ignacio.”

The Citrus Growers Association is the twenty-first organization to sign the workplace policy. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

Gentle says they are currently working to recruit a group of nine companies including the Belize Social Security Board, Development Finance Cooperation and PACT.


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