By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The Christian Worker’s Union (CWU) and Belize City Council (BCC) has reached a major breakthrough in negotiations regarding the termination of almost 30 security workers, said CWU President Audrey Matura-Shepherd said.
Shepherd explained that the two parties managed to come to an initial agreement during their Monday afternoon meeting at City Hall, where they discussed five proposals.
The discussions were more productive than they were last week, when the negotiations broke down, after the council objected to a compassionate package proposal that would have benefited nine of the workers, she added. Both sides compromised and made positive strides to hashing out a resolution.
Shepherd explained that she was not able to discuss the details of the proposals until she had spoken with the union membership but she did say that she expected the issue to be resolved within the week.
The CWU wants to have the details of the settlement printed in black and white and then make an announcement jointly with the BCC, she said.
According to Shepherd, the compassionate package proposal was still on the table and it had evolved into a proposal that both sides could agree on.
“In many ways I think it [the compassionate package] has gotten better,” she shared, adding that she expects the security workers to accept the proposals because they are reasonable and reflect a certain level of compassion and consideration beyond the requirements of the law.
Mayor Darrel Bradley sent out a letter on Friday indicating that the council would be extending the termination date of the security officers to Friday.
Shepherd explained that since an agreement had been reached, the role of the Labor Commissioner would be to assess whether or not the workers were receiving proper benefits in accordance with labor laws.
The Labor Commissioner Ivan Williams had issued a letter on Friday night indicating that he would be taking three measures.
The first would be that the security officers report to City Hall on Monday, the second was that he would be sending his people in to review what were the worker’s benefits package under the law and the final measure was to encourage City Hall not to retract the proposal’s that had been previously accepted.
Williams was obliged to intervene and use his statutory powers when the negotiations had broken down during the meeting last week Thursday.
The CWU first came to the defense of the security officers two weeks ago when they were informed about their terminations during a meeting with the BCC, but were given their termination letters a day later.
Since then, the CWU has maintained that the BCC went about the redundancy process in contravention with labor laws.