By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The Christian Workers Union and Belize City Council have finally reached a settlement in the case of the security workers being made redundant by the BCC.
“We believe that the union has been able to make great inroads for the workers,” CWU President, Audrey Matura-Shepherd said at a late Thursday evening press conference.
The redundancy, which was delayed for two weeks, will now be effective as of Friday, Shepherd explained.
The council will retain five of the security officers who were to be made redundant and absorb them into other positions within the Council.
Nineteen of the terminated workers will be given employment with the new private security firm, Ranger Security, and will start working with their new employer on Friday afternoon.
The officers who will be working with Ranger Security will keep the same wage rate of $4.48 per hour that they had with the council.
Shepherd explained that through the coordination of Mayor Darrell Bradley, the workers would meet with the proprietor of the privatized security firm, Hiram Longsworth, with the backing of the Union at City Hall on Friday afternoon to discuss the other terms and conditions under which the workers would be employed.
Three of the terminated officers are seeking invalidity benefits from the Social Security Board and, if granted, one of the three will receive early retirement benefits. If he is denied those benefits, this particular officer has the option to join Ranger Security.
Three of the terminated workers were not recommended to the privatized security firm and the council has refused to absorb these officers; as a result these terminated officers will receive compassionate packages.
Officers with less than five years employment with the Council will receive six weeks additional salary and officers with more than five years employment will receive four weeks additional salary in addition to their severance pay.
There are three workers who were accepted by Ranger Security but have declined employment with the new privatized firm based on personal reasons. Those people will be given two weeks additional salary.
Shepherd stated that the union would be seeking assistance for these persons in the form of a small business grant for two of the workers who have indicated that they would like to establish a business. Shepherd added that this is not a part of the agreement but the union would be pushing for this.
She explained that although the Union had succeeded in achieving the majority of its goals, some of the workers had to make personal sacrifices for the benefit of the rest.
The CWU first came to the defense of Security Workers two weeks ago after they were informed by the council that their services were being made redundant.
The following day they were given their termination letters, which was misleadingly dated for two weeks before they actually received them.
This was the initial point of contention for the CWU, who maintained that, under the Labor Act, the BCC was mandated to inform the workers of the redundancy process no less than a month before the scheduled termination date.
Last Thursday, the CWU President and the Mayor had a meeting at the labor department in which the Labor Commissioner Ivan Williams was forced to declare an impasse after negotiations had broken down over the compassionate package proposal.