By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The Christian Workers Union (CWU) is calling on the Government of Belize to withhold passing the Vesting Act, enabling CIBC First Caribbean International Bank from selling its assets until the bank has settled on an exit package for the employees.
CWU president Audrey Matura-Shepherd explained that the union has been informed that the House of Representatives is preparing to hold two special sittings next week to approve the Act, which would remove any leverage the workers have in negotiations.
“Only the Prime Minister can stop this at this point. Its him who as the Minister of Finance has to go to the House on Tuesday and present this legislation and it is in his power now to say you know what I am going to put this off. I am going to be satisfied that they are negotiating…”, Matura-Shepherd said.
She added while the bank is preparing to sell over its assets to Heritage Bank, which will leave its 60 employees out of work, the bank has repeatedly ignored the union’s efforts to negotiate an adequate severance and benefits for the workers.
Three of the bank’s five branches were closed this week due to mass reports of sickness among workers. Only the Belize City (Albert Street) and Dangriga branches were open because they were operated by contract workers and upper level management, who are not allowed to join unions.
The CWU would not acknowledge that the workers were taking industrial action, but said that their labour was the only leverage the employees still had in their favor.