BTL employees fired, No protection from union

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A release, almost a casual one, was issued by the Belize Communication Workers Union on Monday, April 12th, announcing that 18 of their union members were fired from Belize Telemedia Limited. Among those terminated is an active liaison officer for the union. The release begins by stating that “the BCWU Executives empathize with the members that were impacted by the recent redundancy exercise.” It then sides with the company, explaining that the firings were as a result of financial hardships being experienced by the company. It goes further to state that “BCWU Executive made certain that this exercise was carried out in accordance with the Labor Act and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“Not at all,” says one of those employees who was fired that we spoke with. The employee explains that it may have well been that the union simply rolled over and played dead. The employee told the Guardian that the union in no way consulted with the general membership as to how the terminations were to take place. He went further to say that if given the opportunity for the general membership to have been notified of the actions before the terminations, the outcome could have been different. “The Union should have held consultation with its general membership, and in order for our jobs to have been saved, it was quite possible that an alternate means of cost-cutting could have been arrived at.”
By all accounts, the Union did not seek alternate ways to save their own, and it is likely that legal action will be taken by some of those affected. Among them is also an accounting clerk. Notably, just a few days ago on March 30th, there was an advertisement by BTL seeking to fill the same position, before the clerk was fired.
There are now more questions than answers as it relates to the firing of the BTL union members, and the apparent complicity of the union. This is especially so after we are informed that the former president had resigned from the union two months ago. The persons who was to have taken the position, the vice president, is actually hospitalized. There are concerns as to who is running the union and what if any reward was offered in the complicity of getting rid of their very own membership.