By Alexis R. Milan
The Belize Energy Workers Union (BEWU) has threatened to strike if there is no breakthrough in negotiations with Belize Electricity Limited (BEL).
The union is waiting to hear the outcome of a meeting between the company and the Labor Minister, who publicly asked for the union’s patience, before taking industrial action.
BEWU Vice President Marvin Mora said he was informed that Labor Minister Godwin Hulse met with BEL’s management on Saturday, following his public call on the union to not strike and allow the mediation process to continue.
Mora said the union’s membership has already made the decision that industrial action is their next step but are waiting to hear if BEL has changed its stance on the proposals.
According to Mora, the union is just asking for its fair share as it relates to its demand for an eight percent salary increase, which has brought the negotiations to a standstill.
BEL has its own calculations of what the employees should be receiving. Mora said if BEL does not come up with something significant for the employees, without conditions, the union will meet with its membership and decide when the industrial action will begin.
Mora said at this point the union has no trust in BEL or the mediation process. Mora added that the union has not heard from Hulse for at least two weeks and has been left in a state of uncertainty, which has understandably led to the worker frustration. The union will not back down from its position unless it feels BEL is making a reasonable offer, he said.
Hulse has said that he believes there is enough common ground for both parties to reach a settlement and conclude negotiations. He said that mediation is not an overnight process and requires commitment from both sides involved.