BTL workers pressure management on pay with silent protest

By Aaron Humes

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Apr. 4th, 2014.
In advance of continued negotiations between the Belize Communication Workers’ Union (BCWU) and the executive board of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) this coming week, employees on Friday staged two silent one-minute protests at all offices of the state-owned telecom company.
The protest consisted of employees silently banging their fists on their desks.
BCWU president, Emily Turner, has told the press that the employees were simply showing their support for their union as the negotiations continue. She affirmed that there was “good faith” between the two sides.
BCWU are negotiating with management for a 5% raise of pay. Following negotiations last week with the executive committee of BTL, now chaired by Anwar Barrow, a counter offer of 3.5% was placed on the table.
Dr. Dionne Chamberlain-Miranda, executive general manager for customer services and public relations, explained that negotiations are ongoing and the Executive Committee will now meet with the full BTL board on Tuesday to consider the counter-proposal, and emphasized that economic factors are in play (see story on the results of this meeting elsewhere in this week’s Reporter).
According to Dr. Miranda, “We want to ensure that what we offer is what we can sustain.
“The company has to work out of its financials, but like I said, the discussions are not over; the discussions continue on Tuesday. That is what our [Executive Committee] was able to offer on Thursday.
“We are meeting again on Tuesday, and that is how it works, back and forth until we meet at an amicable location and destination together”.
Miranda said the company has no plans to punish anyone who took part in the protest, and she does not expect that it will hinder the progress of the negotiations.
She emphasized that the company has great respect for its employees and tries its best to treat them well.
According to Dr. Miranda, she knows of nothing that could have led to “miscommunication” regarding Friday’s protest and was not aware that the action would go ahead.
Her only regret is that it took place in front of customers and halted, if only briefly, the steady flow of service at the downtown office.
BTL, Miranda said, has a fully Belizean staff, and has been in Government control since August of 2009.

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