The Public Service Union (PSU) has written to Prime Minister John Briceno regarding the bill to repeal, replace and consolidate the International Business Companies Act. The bill which seeks to establish and facilitate a modernized framework for the registration, operation and regulation of companies was debated by senators yesterday. The PSU says that it was not consulted prior to the bill being introduced in the House of Representatives. In the letter, the PSU tells PM Briceno that it rejects the Belize Companies Act, 2022 in its current form until such time that (quote) adequate consultation takes place and provisions be included in the Act to provide for the protection of employment, tenure and superannuation benefits of staff and that a clear process for the transition of staff be agreed upon between the PSU and Financial Services Commission. (end of quote) The matter was brought up by Union Senator Elena Smith which prompted a response from Senator for Government Business, Eamon Courtenay.
Elena Smith, Senator for Unions: “A review of Part III of the IFSC ACT, Section 10, which deals with the appointment of staff, here is absolutely nothing therein that provides for the transfer and status of staff currently under the employ of the Government in the Belize Companies and Corporate Affairs registry and so they had requested, Madam President, that before this matter was brought to the Senate, that they would have been. They had requested a meeting so that they could have shared their concerns as it relates to this matter. I am being told that to date, they have received no response and so they are very much concerned that this matter is proceeding and they have not had a chance to provide input, especially as it relates to matters of the staff.”
Eamon Courtenay, Senator of Government Business: “I have been informed by Minister of State Coyi, that in fact the matter raised by the Public Service Union will be addressed. My information is that the seven members of staff at the International, the IBC registry are open vote workers. Those seven will be offered contacts. Upon the establishment of the registry, there are, I believe seven or eight that are at the Domestic Component Registry who are on the permanent establishment. Those employees will be provided with their, those positions will become redundant because a new registry will be created. Those employees will be offered their full benefits, whether it is they want to retire, whether they want to be transferred within the public service or continue in the public service or whether they want to retire and get their benefits and then be offered a position at the new registry. My understanding from the memorandum that was sent to me is that those employees would be given priority to continue if they so choose in the positions. So in other words, if you are a researcher now under permanent establishment, you will be given an opportunity to say listen I want to stay in the public service. Put me in another ministry or no, give me my benefits and I will apply to go to the registry to pay the same researcher or some other position. The assurance, Senator Smith, she’s shaking her head, that as I have informed is that those who are under permanent establishment will be given the opportunities that always exist when you move from creating a Government department to a statutory entity.”