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Tonight, the members of the Belize Employees Holding (BEH) Protectors aligned with the Belize Worker’s Union are up in arms in what they claim as “being left in the dark” by BSI/ASR. From what we have been able to gather, the minority stakeholders are frustrated and dismayed with what they view as a deliberate attempt to keep workers in the dark as it relates to issue of payment for dividends and bonuses.


On March 30th, 2015, an organizational announcement was posted by the Chief Executive Officer of BSI/ASR, Jose Montalvo who indicated that neither dividend nor additional bonus was declared for the fiscal year 2014. While the announcement was made there was no further explanation attached. Viewers may recall that since the transaction between ASR and BSIL was made, there have been numerous changes that have been detrimental to the workers interests. Chairman of the Executive Committee at the Belize Worker’s Union, Ramiro Gongora says after countless correspondences to get BSI/ASR to disclose their financial reports, they believe that the miller is deliberately concealing their financial position in order to prevent them from entitlement to dividends.


Screen_Shot_2015-07-07_at_8.12.25_PMRAMIRO GONGORA – Chairman, BWU Executive Committee


“Based on the financial report is where the additional bonus is generated because there is a threshold of 6 million, above the 6 million then the workers receive a 1% additional bonus so if the Union is not receiving any financial report then the basis that any additional bonus is being withheld and the workers overall are dissatisfied whilst the performance of the factory is excellent and this is by the effort of all the workers in BSI.”


Maria Novelo – Reporter


“What is the reason behind not presenting the financials from BSI, have they responded any at all?”


RAMIRO GONGORA – Chairman, BWU Executive Committee


“Well, they responded in a letter where they state it is confidential and in a statutory form but we are beneficiaries of the 17% so how could it be what they say if confidential to them whilst we are beneficiaries of the 17% so that is where the real issues is being generated by the beneficiaries.”

Maria Novelo – Reporter

“Critics might say it is just a small portion of the majority making you guys the minority why so demanding of the financials?”

RAMIRO GONGORA – Chairman, BWU Executive Committee


“Well, if you can know by right once you are a shareholder to any company your financial is being provided and you expect to what is being generated or if there is a profit or not so we as minority shareholders and there is somebody that represent us but we are actually are getting no information, I don’t know if it is channelled through the chairman then it is not channelled to the protectors nor to the Unions.”


And while the workers represent only a marginal fraction of the shares at BSI/ASR, of 17.5percent, Gongora says with the amount of sugar being produced since 2012, there is no logical reasoning that would indicate that the miller has not profited and surpassed over the 6 million threshold. Members of BEH and BWU say they have been stripped of their benefits.


RAMIRO GONGORA – Chairman, BWU Executive Committee


“The management agreed that there will be a policy in respect to an additional bonus once the profit is about 6 million right, if in 2013 we had received a 3.9 additional bonus now 2014 we are not receiving anything not even the slightest impression if they will give anything because they took out on March an information statement stating that no dividends or additional bonus is being generated.”


Maria Novelo – Reporter


“Now, you guys concern is about issues are not being heard or filtered there are the mill, why come out to the media?”

 

RAMIRO GONGORA – Chairman, BWU Executive Committee


“Well, actually we had made several correspondences, we made one to the Chairman who is Mr Montalvo, we made one and no response, we made one to Mr Arsenio Burgos and no response either and we made one to the ASR representative and no response either so all of them are ignoring us as if we are nothing in the sugar industry then and the workers are the ones that really put all their effort to be successful in each and every crop.”


Maria Novelo – Reporter


“Now, if push comes to shove what is next?”


RAMIRO GONGORA – Chairman, BWU Executive Committee


“Well, we can say that the workers will make their decision but I cannot say what will happen but if the workers give us an agenda to go through and they say well alright this is what we will do then that is what we’ll do.”


The workers and its committees are scheduled to meet the week after the crop closure to discuss their next move in their Annual General Meeting. We’ll keep monitoring this story.

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