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Feb 7, 2014

The CWU and the Mayor still at loggerheads

Following several meetings, press releases and interviews with both the Belize City Council and the Christian Workers Union, the issue of the redundant security workers has degenerated into little more than a ‘he said she said’ emotional back and forth. It’s actually become difficult to separate the emotion from the facts, as both sides keep citing different figures. On Wednesday both sides sat down to a marathon twelve hour mediation session with Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams, but even that ended on a sour note. So where does all this put the redundant employees of the Council’s Security Department – well, from all appearances, absolutely nowhere. Mike Rudon has been following this story and has an update.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

On Wednesday, the CWU and the City Council bunkered down at the Labour Department to seek an amicable and beneficial resolution to the matter on the table. That meeting ended with Mayor Darrell Bradley and his team walking out in protest. Bradley has maintained that Matura-Shepherd is overstepping her bounds in a big way and the CWU President is no slouch at returning verbal blows.


Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

Darrell Bradley

“She misunderstands her function and her role, and that became plainly obvious to me when I was speaking to her for so long yesterday, that she doesn’t understand what she is doing. Her function in this is to be dialoguing with us on ways that we could minimize the impact of a redundancy on staff. It is not to tell us whether or not we should do a redundancy. The law makes it obviously clear, and businesspersons will understand this, that if an employer wants to make a staff redundant that is his right, he can do so.”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, Christian Workers Union

“Throughout the meeting the Mayor got very personal. He forgot that it was the union there. He kept pushing his hand toward me. He got very personal and confrontational. So I’m very mature and very professional. I will not follow that path. The Mayor can say whatever he wants and do his personal attacks. Let me stick to the issue, and the issue is that under the laws it says that we can seek information because what we want to do is see what are the measures to mitigate the hardships on people who are losing their jobs. In seeking the measures we have to remember that what the Council said was the reason for the redundancy is that they are losing money…it was for more financial efficiency. If you come to the union and say it’s financial efficiency we then have every right to say…you are talking about the security department…show us the breakdown in the security department…show us what the savings are.”


According to the Mayor those savings to the Council will total around three hundred thousand dollars annually. So Matura-Shepherd has said that since the Council is reaping dividends off the heads of the workers and has shown them the door…they should also have a heart and show them the money. That matter of what is called a compassionate package is one reason why discussions have broken down.


Darrell Bradley

“Another thing they proposed which I thought was very unreasonable. They want us to give…there are about six people that we could not convince the security company to take because they had disciplinary problems. And the City Council…we don’t want them either. We had three park warden jobs and we took those three people from this pool so that we took as much as we could to reassign them to new places. And we got the new contractor to agree to take twenty of them. But there were some of them who, because of their record, it was difficult to place them. We did not want to keep them and it was difficult to get the contractor to pay them. Ms. Matura offered as a proposal that we will pay these people who have disciplinary infractions with us…that we will pay them four months salary ex-gratia. I thought that this was very unreasonable.”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“You know why we call it a compassionate package because we are asking the City Council to have a heart. None of them there in top management would want to be placed in that position. So why do you put them in the position? Because they are the least skilled? They are the poorest? They are the least paid? They are the ones working all hour—morning, noon and night—while you are sleeping in your bed good there out in the cold? No man. We have even gotten down to that. So what we are trying to do is ease the blow of these men. And not all of them are saying no to the other security company. Some of them are saying plain, although it is the worst condition, they are in desperate situation and they will take the job. That is how unjust this system is. You’ve put them with their back against the wall.”


There is a very real financial consideration lurking in these muddy waters of emotional sallies. Mayor Bradley says that every day by which the matter is prolonged, the workers are losing money.


Darrell Bradley

“I want the members of the public to realize that the union in this case is acting against staff. Every week that this thing is delayed is one week less notice pay that these individuals are getting. They are walking away with less notice. When we sat down with this thing, one of the things we wanted to do was to say okay then…we will work out that you will get an offer of immediate alternative employment, but you will get your severance and you will get your notice pay. We didn’t want them to work out the notice because we wanted them to walk away with cash. So that in some cases there are people are getting eight weeks salary and the next week they are going to go to alternative employment. When Ms. Matura prolongs this situation, what she is doing is that she is forcing the staff to work out the notice period, so that they are walking away with less cash.”


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“The law is clear as to what is the notice you can get…and any decision like that from the Mayor and what he does, is just a reflection of his true heart. I can’t stop him from deciding how to manipulate and connive and get the men out of a few dollars more. I can’t stop him. That is a reflection of his heart.”


Reflection of his heart or not, money matters, and even if it is not expressed, the notice pay will definitely play a role in the path the negotiations take. The Mayor has agreed to hold off letting go the workers until next Friday, even as he says that based on the meeting Wednesday, he feels discussions are futile. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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2 Responses for “The CWU and the Mayor still at loggerheads”

  1. /:-) / says:

    When I see Audrey Matura de Shepherd, I imageIn her lying on a beach in Playa del Carmen getting a well deserved massage. That would be on order. No charge, just pleasure. Truth is sexy.
    Mhm.:-) /

  2. FAIR JUSTICE says:

    Put it on them Audrey Matura. Show Darrell you wount let him walk over you much less the workers. He is getting a fat cheque at the end of each month. He can put bread on his table or better said he can buy lobster and fillet minion to eat. While the poor have to live on bread and water. If they can afford it. But you know the bible say. That the rich lives off the poor…but great will be their compensation for taking advantage of the poor. May God be with you Darrell Bradley for taking food out of the mouth of the poor.

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