By Benjamin Flowers
Unionized employees of First Caribbean International Bank took to strike action this week after negotiations with the bank broke down.
On Thursday, union members from the Dangriga, Belmopan, and Belize City branches assembled in front of the bank’s Albert Street branch in protest, while the Orange Walk branch members all called in sick.
Derrick Perrera, chief union representative for the for FCIB employees, explained that since the bank announced that it will sell its assets to Heritage Bank, the management has not been considerate of how the sale will affect the workers.
“All we’re asking is for the bank to be fair with us, to give us a decent package so that when we join the ranks of the unemployed we are able to carry over until we find a new job.” Perrera said.
He added that the bank has not presented a meaningful counter proposal to the four points which the employees are seeking to negotiate: salary increases, notice pay, severance pay, and debt forgiveness.
“What they are proposing is not what the workers feel they deserve.” Perrera added.
The workers all resolved that the strike action will continue until the bank makes an effort at meaningful negotiations. Through the
work of non-union members, the bank’s branch in the SanCas Plaza managed to remain open.
Christian Worker’s Union President, Audrey Matura-shepherd, explained that the bank has written to the Labour Commissioner requesting his involvement in the matter.
Matura-Shepherd also said that the union learned that the reason the bank had no meaningful counter proposal is because they were not prepared to give anything more than that which was originally offered: a salary increase of one percent, and 2 percent on their salary as of 2014 paid in one lumped sum.
The employees in preparing to engage Rik Parkhill, chief executive officer of FCIB, wrote a letter detailing their grievances with the way the workers have been treated throughout prior to and after the announcement of the sale.
The employees first point of contention is that the bank lied about the sale when asked if it was actually going to happen. They also underscored the the bank continued to offer loans to staff knowing that they would soon be unemployed, but did not give any advanced warning of an impending change of ownership.
The employees demanded that the bank respond by Monday, November 2 whether or not it was prepared to continue negotiations, and if it was willing to do so in good faith.