Controversy / General / Weekend News

BCWU leads protest against government’s settlement with Ashcroft Alliance over BTL

By Marion Ali, Staff Reporter

The Belize Communication Workers’ Union (BCWU), led about 70 Belize Telemedia Limited’s (BTL) employees in a picket during Friday’s lunch hour around the company’s Regent and Church Street offices.

The demonstration, according to President of the BCWU, Michael Augustus, has to do with the employees’ disatisfaction at how the government handled the settlement with Lord Michael Ashcroft over BTL. He also pointed at other issues that the general membership has concerns over with the management of BTL.

“There are some health issues, some things that need to be addressed urgently and there are many others which we will speak about in the future, very near future, if they are not resolved in a timely manner”, Augustus told reporters.

Augustus added that the picketers represented the majority of the membership.

The picket followed a blistering press releease the union circulated on Thursday night, which criticised the Barrow administration and more directly, the Prime Minister’s son, Anwar Barrow, who is the chairman of BTL’s Board of Directors. The criticism followed a meeting that Anwar Barrow had with the union on Monday, in which he did not communicate to them that his father had reached an agreement with the Ashcroft Alliance.

“Anwar Barrow, the prime minister’s son and Chairman of the Executive Committee at BTL was not brave enough tell the union that Daddy was calling a press conference less than two hours later to announce that the government had arrived at a settlement with the Lord himself”, the release stated.

The BCWU release described the Barrow/Ashcroft settlement as disrespect that surpasses the 2005 Accommodation Agreement under “smart” Said!”

The release went on in a very serious tone, to compare this latest agreement between Barrow and Ashcroft to the 2005 Musa/Ashcroft agreement.

The “Barrow Government was acting from the same script as the Musa Government, but more polished and more secretive actors were starring in the film”, it angrily states.

The press release concludes by saying “the Barrow Administration has done worse by saddling all Belizeans, from the cradle to those on their way to their graves, with a whopping $162 million plus”, and that the agreement “was done in secrecy to make Mr Ashcroft happy and a bunch of lawyers millions of dollars richer while we the taxpayers of Belize and workers of BTL must now carry this increased debt burden”.

BTL’s Board of Directors responded to the press release by expressing disappointment that the union failes to follow company procedures to resolve disputes.  The Board points out that the union raised only four issues with the company and invites the union’s executive to meet with them over those issues. 

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