The saga of the pending Collective Bargaining Agreement continued both in the House of Representatives as the Prime Minister addressed the issue as well as at the Christian Workers’ Union Headquarters on Cemetery Road in Belize City where Audrey Matura-Shepherd addressed the media. Matura-Shepherd responded to several statements made by Prime Minister Dean Barrow including the explanation of what the Vesting Act will cause once it was passed through the House of Representatives. To remind you of what both parties said, we brought back Monday’s explanation of the Vesting Act by the Prime Minister and Matura’s interpretation.
“To pass the Vesting Act is to facilitate the transfer of the assets. If we didn’t do this, and there is precedence when Ashcroft bought Royal Bank of Canada; when FCIB bought Barclays Bank; when Scotia Belize bought out Scotia Bank, on each occasion, Government, and there were different administrations, on each of those occasions passed a Vesting Act. If you don’t do that the transfer of the securities, with respect to every single mortgage, they will have to be laboriously processed at the registry one by one. So, all we are doing is facilitating this process so that there are no slippages.”
AUDREY MATURA SHEPHERD
“So, that is a nice way of the Prime Minister saying that he’s making sure that the work term of the employees is shorter because if they didn’t pass the Vesting Act and the bank had to register each loan one by one it would mean that the business would not close down in the next month; it would take a couple months because it would have been a long process and it would have ensured a longer tenure of employment for the workers and they would have been able then to have a longer period in which to negotiate an exit package. So, I’m glad he admits that he’s just speeding up the process to keep them without a job because that’s what it really means and I’m glad he explained that.”
Matura went on to say that the Prime Minister’s words and action have proven that he has taken sides with the management of CIBC First Caribbean International Bank and has chosen to not help the sixty employees.
AUDREY MATURA SHEPHERD
“If this Vesting Act is not passed, that sale is not complete. You’re right, you’d go through the long process; so the longer it takes, the longer they have a job. This Vesting Act is using Parliament to short cut the process. So, there is absolutely no way that the Prime Minister could say that he has no power because if he, as the Minister of Finance doesn’t pass this then there could be no sale. If there is no sale, the bank is forced to go the long route, keep people in a job for a longer time, give customers a time to react because right now customers don’t even have a time to react. They are taking their loans and putting it at another bank whether you like it or not. When he does this even the customer’s freedom to choose is being denied and we haven’t even addressed this yet. So because he thinks that fool di listen while fool di talk; that people will not figure out that what he has done is really make the job easier for the bank. So, why is it that he is willing to speed things up with the bank but he is not willing to slow things down for the employees. Or why is it that while he is speeding things up for the bank he doesn’t use the same kind of leverage that he has through Parliament to also make sure that the employees in this legislation, you see anything here that one of the conditions on which this is being passed is to ensure that the employees have signed off on anything? Because I’ve read it and I don’t find it. So if he really means what he said I heard him say today in the National Assembly that one of the conditions though it is not in the act he admits is that there would be a settlement, come on, he is an attorney; he knows that what goes is in black and white and that is why this is powerful and that is why we want to negotiate something in black and white.”
Matura Shepherd told the media that one of the messages from the employees actually served as a reminder to the Prime Minister that they represent votes in the upcoming election that would surpass sixty.