Belize Energy Workers Union threatens industrial action

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Updated: September 8, 2015

Last week Friday we told you about the letter that the Belize Energy Workers Union sent to Minister of Labor, Godwin Hulse. Essentially, President of the Union, Marvin Mora, thanked Hulse for his participation in the negotiations with Belize Electricity Limited. Also in that letter Mora expressed the Union’s position to take up industrial action as their last resort. As we have been reporting, the membership of the union has been requesting a salary increase from BEL. That request has not been fulfilled and today Mora told us to what extent they will express their frustration with BEL.

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“In terms of industrial action you mentioned that we will not only see the up and down what can we expect?”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

“The union members to tell you the truth are the ones that are driving the process because the executive has been clear to them, we are taking a back seat on this one you do what you believe is best because we have tried a process that is not working and we have not seen any real movement on behalf of the company so the membership will decide how far or how wide they want to carry this. At the end of the day they are exercising their rights to do industrial action whether it be all the way to strike or not, that is a decision that only they can take.”

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“Is it really beneficial for them?”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

Well at this time it beats a try, because of one simple fact. So far negotiations directly with the management did not work. We went all the way to the board, the board pointed us to the chairman that did not work. We went past the chairman and now we are at the Minister and that obviously is not working because it’s a case where the minister has made a proposal and management threw it into the garbage and the minister is also pretending like management is doing great when he knows full well that that was disrespectful to him. On top of that they went ahead and made a press release about the other proposal that they made. Meanwhile the proposal that was coming from the Minister himself was something that the union was acceptable because it looked fair to us.”

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“Is this a frustrating process?”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

“It is more than frustrating and that is the reason why now the membership is taking the helm of this union and where it wants to go.”

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“Minister Hulse does not believe that you’ll reach to that stage.”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

“Well Minister Hulse can continue to not believe, that is his personal prerogative but the union is read, the members across the country are ready and if he continues to not believe well maybe seeing may be believing and that’s probably what will have to happen.”

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“Minister Hulse told us on Friday that as far as he knew it the mediation was going well.”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

“Mediation was going extremely well but what had happened was that instead of management taking the proposal that was given by the minister instead of them doing the right thing and counter proposing on that proposal they actually went ahead and drafted a whole new proposal that we had to figure out again whether it is beneficial, better than the one they proposed before, so in reality it is just games that is being played and the union is getting tired.”

We are not sure what form the industrial action will take or by when but Mora says that the ball is in BEL’s court- only they can prevent such action from happening at this time.

 

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“By when we will we see the crowds out in the streets?”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

“Well that is dependent on how fast management wants to move. If management wants to move fast enough to ensure that we get what is a fair deal there is no need for us to do that.

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“What is a fair deal?”

Marvin Mora – President, BEWU

“A fair deal is this, it must be a salary increase, we have not received a salary increase for many years even though you hear all kinds of rumors and stories. Two it must also be across the board and it must be a salary increase that means that every single individual that works in BEL and is a non-management staff must receive a salary increase, no lump sums, no bonus pay but an across the board salary increase. The next thing is that we are asking management to do the right thing in terms of the package that we have for pension the senior management of the company is already receiving up to 10% in their already huge salaries matching pension contributions on behalf of the company. The workers who are at the bottom of the ladder the furthest it can go is 6%. We are asking of the company to do the right thing whatever is good for Peter is good for Paul. Put us at the 10% so that we can put 10% the company can match it 10%. The other well for it to be fair if you are looking at the fact that we already had an established system of appraisal that works with a comparatio system that has already been established, that was not up for negotiations. The members of the union and the workers of BEL expect to receive the slight increases that are based on appraisal performance results and we don’t expect any less than that.”

 

The union has about one hundred and fifty members.