The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and BSI representatives are scheduled to meet tomorrow as all stakeholders in the sugar industry wait anxiously for the impasse to be lifted. Whether BSI is going back to the negotiating table is not clear, but they have committed to meet tomorrow at the BSI Staff club at nine thirty with the negotiating committee, branch directors and the BSCFA’s Committee of Management.
This follows a string of meetings that begun over a year ago and have not given much results. The fact is that stakeholders in the industry find themselves in pretty much the same situation as one year ago when the negotiations hit a deadlock. In a very similar fashion, the Prime Minister and even the Deputy Prime Minister have come back into the picture to help mediate the situation into a positive resolution.
The BSCFA is hoping to restart negotiations on five points of interest to farmers. These include cane ownership, payment for bagasse, who coordinates and manages the harvesting of the cane, how to settle disputes according to the sugar industry act and the term for the agreement. By now, viewers are fully aware of BSI’s position on these matters which is that they won’t bend on any.
In early November the company bypassed the Association and introduced a new contract to farmers in the hope of getting farmers to sign on and start a crop without continuing negotiations with the BSCFA. It is yet to be known if cane farmers are willing to sign on to the proposed contract as BSI/ASR is yet to reveal if they will amended the contract based on comments and queries received. The deadline for submissions was November 28th. Of note is that the BSCFA has described the proposed contract as the worst in the history of the sugar industry. Tomorrow’s meeting between both parties may or may not shift the current impasse.
What is of importance to both though is the early start of crop. Today, BSI issued a rather short release stating that it has completed its annual repairs and is now ready to commence milling once a date is agreed upon by all parties. December 8th had been identified as the ideal start for the crop but whether that will happen is still uncertain.
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