By Benjamin Flowers
The Christian Workers Union is requesting a meeting with CIBC First Caribbean International Bank to discuss matters pertaining to the resignation of Uwahnie Martinez, the Dangriga branch’s employee who resigned after charging that the bank discriminated against the Garifuna language.
The union requested the meeting with the union representatives, bank representatives and Martinez on Friday September 5, but up to press time the CIBC has not responded.
CWU General Secretary Floyd Neal wrote to the Bank on Wednesday outlining the major issues which still need to be resolved including the matter of a customer complaint against Martinez which the CWU says did not exist prior to her resignation, and the bank’s failure to address the concerns about the Garifuna language.
The CWU says that Martinez sent an email to the bank on August 14, giving her account of being summoned to the Branch Manager’s office to receive a directive about not speaking Garifuna in the bank.
The bank however, has maintained that it has no such written policy against the language.
The union is also taking issue with an unresolved appeal for an unsatisfactory performance rating, saying that Martinez was led to believe that she had received a satisfactory rating before being informed that she in fact had not.
CWU President, Audrey Matura, said this week that while the bank accepted Martinez’s resignation, the CWU also wishes to clarify issues relating to benefits and to entitlements owed to her.
“What we want for our member is for her to receive what is fair under the law and what is owed to her through the principles of natural justice,” Shepherd said.
Martinez, one of only two Garifuna employees working at the Dangriga branch, tendered her resignation in August to be effective in October. Since the incident went public the bank has issued several statements emphasizing that there is no such policy within the bank which discriminates against a people’s cultural language.
Shaeleen Castillo, Operations Manager at CIBC First Caribbean, told the media last week that the bank encourages employees to speak in whatever language they deem comfortable.
She added that the bank had conducted an internal investigation, the results of which were human resource related and could not be shared with the public.
The allegations of discrimination have sparked the ire of the Garifuna community which held a protest through the streets of Dangriga on Friday, August 29, converging in front of First Caribbean.
Several Garifuna groups have come forward to condemn the perceived discrimination against the Garifuna language, including the United Garifuna Association Inc (UGAI) and the National Garifuna Council.