Last Friday, the management and workers of the Citrus Products of Belize Limited, CPBL, signed a Subsidiary Workers Agreement. The agreement will be valid for four years and the terms and conditions under the agreement are retroactive from January 1 of this year. The agreement covers employees working at four different farm locations namely: Barton Creek Farms Limited (BCFL), XYZ, Citrus Company of Belize & Belize Food Products Groves. Love News spoke with Nikita Usher, Chief Administration Manager at CPBL about the benefits of the agreement.
Nikita Usher – Chief Administration Manager at CPBL: “So we have been able to do some adjustments in their rates. We have also been able to do some of the contract rates, they were also increased in terms of harvesting in terms of food hauling and herbiciding so these rates are contracted on a per box basis and those were also increased as well. From a general standpoint the increase in hourly rates was about a three and a half to four percent increase. The agreement had several components to it: rates is only one side of it, there is a grievance machinery side of it, there is also the benefits that employees have for example there are scholarships that are offered to their kids. There are three scholarships offered on an annual basis, there is a high school and a sixth form component to it. There is also allowances for meals if they are away, there are rates if they are working in water. For example if they are working and rain should come down, should they continue working there is a rate for getting wet. There is a rate for height so these are incentive payments that are made to them outside of the ordinary hourly rates of pay so it compensates for any angle, any aspect of what their daily work would be like, if they are working in water that is above their ankle, there is a different rate. Like sometimes when you have to clean the drains on the farm it requires you, although you have on a rubber boots it requires you to be in water that would be a little deeper than what ordinarily would be expected.”
Usher added that the Citrus Greening Disease also known as Huanglongbing has not affected the benefits to the employees. Usher and Kent Herrera, the Chief Financial Officer signed the Subsidiary Workers Agreement on behalf of CPBL while Bertrand Faux, Agriculture Manager, signed on behalf of the workers.