Last month, the Belize City Council laid off six employees including the city administrator. The council’s decision was based on the council’s ‘poor fiscal condition.” In a statement, it was explained that a quote “restructuring was an inevitable and necessary component to achieve financial stability and the fulfillment of the council’s mandate.” End of quote. Cecil Jenkins Sr. was one of the persons fired and he said a reason for his termination was not given. Last month, Jenkins told Love News that he was unfairly terminated. Jenkins is one of two employees who are part of the Christian Workers Union (CWU). Mose Hyde, CWU’s President, told Love News that he does not believe due process was afforded the members and that letters to the City Council to express this was sent. The CWU also wrote to the Labor Department asking for their intervention. Labor Commissioner Ivan Williams says he has spoken to both parties separately.
Ivan Williams, Labor Commissioner: “First of all if there is a Collective Bargain Agreement we have to look to see what size, how do they treat one another and I think if I am not wrong that there is a certain level of engagement. There is a certain level of information that needs to pass between either sides because of the Union representation. It is not like a work place that has no Union. There is a certain procedure in terms of how you treat each other so from that point of view there ought to have been; I am not sure what the reasons for the termination are but depending on the reason if it is a restructuring or re organization or some downsizing then clearly it would have been the interest of employees or the Union because you as an employee a member of the union can ask your Union to intervene, you see it or by the very collective agreement, there are times when there are terms in there that before you do certain things you consult with the Union so I’m not sure what the reasons are but I believe the Collective Agreement called for a process where the parties ought to have engaged so that one is not caught of guard. As it stands, if you are terminating workers, which is different from dismissal, dismissal is a form of termination. Now the dismissal though is termination with good and sufficient cause that is why we make the distinction between dismissals. Dismissed because you are at fault, the employer is saying here you have violated or you have reach your sudden. Termination on the other hand might be for various reasons, it might be redundancy, it might cause, and there might be justifiable cause. However there is in law in the Labor Amendment Act number 3 of 2011 which is now in cooperated in the 2011 version of the Substantive Law.-that if you are removed from the work place or you are terminated from the work place you can bring an action saying I believe that I was terminated without good cause or I have been discriminated or I fall within the non-permissible areas because there are certain areas you cannot terminate people or remove them from the work place and if you feel that one of those grounds have been breached then you can bring an action. So I’m not sure what angle this is going to come from in terms of what the union is going to use as it basis to say we feel the persons was unfairly or wrongfully terminated.”
When the news first broke Hyde explained to Love News that quote, “as a result of a 2011 amendment to the law, there is no need for a reason to be stated for a termination, only a dismissal.” End of quote.