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  • Speaker Of The House Signs MOU With FOPREL And SICA

    Friday, 07 September 2018 02:44
  • New International Flight Headed To Belize

    Friday, 07 September 2018 02:46
  • 224 Farmers Graduate From Farmers Field School

    Friday, 07 September 2018 03:09

Today the Belize Workers Union and the Belize Sugar Industry finally signed the long negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement. To be more specific, both parties signed two collective bargaining agreements this morning. One was for tower hill hourly paid workers which is a longstanding agreement that had expired on June 30th 2014 and had been subject to negotiations. Those negotiations were completed in February and the final agreement was signed today. BSI Financial Officer Belizario Carballo says they are pleased that the agreement has been signed.


Screen_Shot_2015-03-18_at_8.10.25_PMBelizario Carballo


“That agreement is retroactive to the 1st of July 2014 and goes for four years up to the 30th of June 2018 and as part of the negotiations we had agreed with the BWU increases in wages over that four year period and also other adjustments in other parts of  the CBA but that is a mature CBA that we all collectively agreed that it is a progressive CBA and it is one that both side feel good about it and so we signed that agreement today along with a new CBA for the contract field workers before this they came under individual contracts, they now cone under a CBA and the BWU represents that group of workers as well and so that is the first one and we have been disusing that for some time and today we signed that collective bargaining agreement and that agreement is for two years and so it is a bit less than two years now because we had a little delay in the signing of it but it expires on the 30th of September 2016.”


And while the company is pleased to have the document signed, BWU Chairman Ramiro Gongora says that it was not the BWU’s leadership’s decision. The matter was voted on by the members who felt it important to sign. Viewers may recall that BWU was refusing to sign the document because BSI had indicated that they would only sign with the union and rejected the participation of the Labor Commissioner.


Ramiro Gongora Chairman of BWU Orange Walk branch


“Today we signed it due to a resolution passed on Monday, the membership asked for a resolution and the BWU is governed by the membership so we had to respect the membership resolution stating that we signed this collective bargaining agreement without the Labor Commissioner present. They stated that they wanted us to conclude the signing of the agreement and we pass it through a resolution and that is the reason we accepted and did what the membership asked.”


The BWU represents some 160 members in the factory and storage section of the company. As we mentioned before, the BWU leadership would not sign without the Labor Commissioner and Gongora says he maintains his position but respects that of the membership. But while Gongora fears an uncertain future for the workers they represent, BSI’s Belizario Carballo says nothing has changed.


Ramiro Gongora Chairman of BWU Orange Walk branch


“Personally, myself, it is kind of difficult to go through process when something could; BSI states that everything will remain the same but who can tell how could you all of a sudden don’t want the labor commissioner to sign but the membership made their decision and we complied so we signed it although under duress but that was the decision of the members.”


Belizario Carballo


“Not at all, that is not the case at all, the agreement that we signed with the BWU is as valid and as effective as any previous agreement what we have changed is that there isn’t any need because it is and there is no legal requirement for anyone to witness that the two parties are signing the agreement that was all the role that the witness had played but we had been explaining this to the Union and we had been in communication with them about this matter and we had pleased on the agreement on how we move forward on it and so today we signed because it is a collective agreement between BSI and the BWU and all what it was required is for BSI and BWU to sign on the agreement and the parties on the agreement have agreed the CBA and they have signed the CBA and it is effective and the role of the Labor Commissioner is still there and still define by the labor act and so we have assured the BWU that not having a witness does not render CBA any less valid than any CBA we have had with them.”


Dalila Ical – Reporter


“Basically the rights of the membership of the BWU continue to be upheld and respected and protected basically?”

 

Belizario Carballo


“That is correct and that is all as per the labor act and as per the provisions in the CBA which remain unchanged.”

 

A collective bargaining agreement for the workers in the storage division at the factory is yet to be concluded between the union and the company.

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