By Benjamin Flowers
First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) has officially announced the date it will cease its operations in Belize.
FCIB issued a statement saying it had received formal approval from the Central Bank of Belize to complete the sale of it’s assets to Heritage Bank by January 31, 2016. In light of that the bank will close its doors on January 29
January 31st, 2016. In light of that, the bank will close on 29th.
The Bank’s announcement, however, comes before any resolution has been made about the exit package it will offer to more than 50 employees still working at the bank.
Christian Worker’s Union (CWU) President, Audrey Matura Shepherd explained on Tuesday, that the bank has not met with the Union since October to discuss the exit package.
Matura-Shepherd, explained that during the entire negotiation process, the bank has acted in bad faith, deliberately stalling negotiations, not being forthcoming with information pertaining to the sale and using the state to disenfranchise workers of their negotiating power.
She added that many of the public statements made prior to the announcement of the sale, such as the Prime Minister announcing he would not assent to the sale until the negotiations are completed, have not been honored.
Among those statements was the prospect of the bank absorbing some of the workers made redundant by the sale. That statement, according to the CWU has not been followed up on.
“Nobody has gotten any offer, nobody has been told anything, it was all just a show,” Matura Shepherd said. “They weren’t doing actual interviews, they were taking stock of the employees like they did the accounts.”
On August 3rd, FCIB announced the sale of its assets which would make its 60 employees redundant. The sale prompted the union to expedite the resolution of negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement to settle the kind of severance the workers would get.
Among the three key negotiating points, the employees were seeking salary increases, additional severances, and debt forgiveness for those who had loans with the bank. The parties have not set a date for their next negotiation session.