By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
Forty-four Belize Maintenance Limited workers, led by whistleblower Delroy Herrera, were arrested for littering in front of City Hall on Monday morning.
But at the urging of the Prime Minister, all charges have been dropped against the men.
The BML bus carrying Herrera and the employees was stopped in front of the Queen Street police station and its riders rounded up and taken into processing to be charged for littering and holding an illegal gathering.
The workers, led by Herrera, after a rally at the BML office on Baymen Avenue at 9 a.m. Monday, made their way in front of City Hall and emptied a truck full of garbage on the street.
The garbage on the street and the gathering obstructed traffic from flowing normally down North Front Street and vehicles had to be redirected.
The angry BML employees protested and expressed their frustration with Mayor Darrel Bradley and City Council.
According to Herrera, contrary to Bradley’s comments last week, he has not been in contact with BML owner Lawrence Ellis.
Herrera said Bradley and CitCo needs to be fair and stop demoralizing BML employees as many of them are poor single parents.
He also said the Mayor has acted in bad faith in not paying BML, causing the company to dismiss about 50 workers.
BML employees protested that they would be losing their jobs when BML’s contract expires in January 2015.
Herrera demanded that the Mayor to pay BML the outstanding debt.
Herrera said his purpose for organizing the employees was because they have no representation and said the people need someone to stand up for them.
BML Operations Manager, Mitchell Danderson said BML made the decision to dismiss the 50 employees because they have received no payments for the past week and are owed an additional 17-weeks payment.
Danderson added that Bradley has not been in contact with the company recently, contrary to his statements last week.
There have been no discussions between BML and CitCo about transitioning any of the company’s current employees, Danderson said.
Danderson was also critical of Bradley’s claim in regard to how much the city would save from ending BML’s contract.
Danderson also indicated that the company would need to let more workers go for each week they are not paid.
The crowd dispersed after Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster, deputy OC Easter Division, warned the employees that they would be forcefully removed if they did not leave.
Bradley said CitCo has given a year’s notice to BML that its contract would not be renewed and said the company has had enough time to develop a strategy to prepare their employees for the transition.
Bradley maintains that the city would save at least $58,000 a week by cancelling the BML contract and having CitCo assume the responsibility of maintaining the city.