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Jan 30, 2014

City Hall lets go thirty-six security workers; the CWU takes up their cause

Noel Maheia

In mid-December, firebrand attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd was named President of the controversial Christian Workers Union, and little over a month after she is facing her first challenge. That’s because the posts of thirty-six security officers from the Security Department of the Belize City Council have been declared redundant and it is a complicated issue. In a nutshell, it appears that the security department has been privatized, and the contract given to the current security manager Hiriam Longsworth. It is alleged that the current officers would have moved on to that private firm as well, but that is uncertain at this point. All the workers know is what was told to them in a letter on January twenty-third.


Noel Maheia, Security Personnel

“In an effort to maximize the efficiency and to enhance productivity, the Belize City Council will be privatizing its security services. With this important move to enhance the service, your post as a security officer has become redundant. Your last date of employment will be Friday, the thirty-first January 2014.”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, Christian Workers Union

“The law envisions that when you realize that this might happen, you have to contact the union, contact the labor department so that you show them why it is necessary, you give them the names of the people that are likely affected; you work out with them deals or whatever package you could to assist these people. It never happened. The law makes it clear that you need to do that. We did not find out or become aware of the situation until last week.”


Jamie Yearwood, Security Personnel

“It just noh mek no sense and I understand and I know for certain that they have been giving grant to the people who will have stall out there. You can’t pay my salary, but you could give grant my brother? It sounds crazy to me. And why is it that the only person who knew about the privatization is the present manager of the security department, Mister Hiram Longsworth. It sounds crazy to me. If you di privatize and yet you need a security department, I woudla mi through it up fi bid. Make I see who woulda mi give me the best offer. But just Hiram know about it? you noh discuss nothing with your department. They said they had a meeting…according to the mayor on Love FM, he said they had a meeting and discussed it. with who? The people really affected by this privatization dah we, the security officers, and ih noh have no discussion with we.”


Jamie Yearwood

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“We would want in this circumstance to still have the mayor and the council and the labor department sit with us to work out a transition for these employees because we believe that one, you can take on some of them—those that you don’t want to take on, you need to give them a package so that they can move on to find another employment—and some of them we believe can be transferred within departments of the council. We have not been able to get the mayor to sit and talk to us simply when he responded to our letter. Rather what he did, he challenged our validity as a union to even represent the workers. He said until we prove that, he will consider meeting with us. Immediately upon receiving this letter, we sent him the certificate to prove that we are the legitimate body. I find it interesting that he would do that because just before Christmas, around that season, I met him and he knows me personally and he knows that I am the president of the union and I discussed a minor issue with him concerning employees at the council and our union being involved as a representative. And at no point in that discussion he challenged me and said, rather he acknowledged that he knew that the Christian Workers Union represents these employees.”


So that’s where the matter stands at this point. While the letter of termination was given to them on the twenty-third, none of the thirty-six has received an employment offer or letter from the new security firm. Matura-Shepherd is asking that the termination be put off for at least a month.

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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1 Response for “City Hall lets go thirty-six security workers; the CWU takes up their cause”

  1. Al Rich says:

    Why is it that in Belize they try to legitimize everything by calling it “Christian”. Like the prison, it suppose to be a “Christian” organization, but there is a Muslim woman at the top of the organization. That is an oxymoran.

    Screwed up government which leads to a screwed country and messed up infrastructure. Get real and start doing things right.

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