Viewers may recall that in August of this year, First Caribbean International announced that it would be selling out its assets to a much smaller bank, Heritage Bank. The buy over, however, does not include FCIB staff, about 60 employees in total, who were told that they were losing their jobs and need to re-apply to Heritage Bank if they wish to be employed. Staff members were in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement at the time of the announcement. All staff members, except for management, are members of the Christian Workers Union and since the announcement was made, the CWU had expressed disappointment with CIBC for not being forthcoming when the question was directly put to them via a letter dated July third, 2015.  The union also said it would be working along CIBC to ensure that a proper exit package is put together for those employees who would be joining the ranks of the unemployed. But last week Friday, all 55 Union members employed by First Caribbean called in sick as part of their protest of the way the buy over is going; without the input of the employees. And while the First Caribbean Bank employees continue to stage a sick out, the Prime Minister spared no bullets when he came down on CWU’s leadership and President, Audrey Matura Shepperd. The PM criticized Matura for what he claims is a “dense and dishonest leadership” on her behalf.

Screen_Shot_2015-09-14_at_6.41.49_PMHonorable Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

"Despite numerous invitations from the bank to the CWU to submit proposals so that the negotiating process over a new collective bargaining agreement could have begun for well over a year. The CWU did not respond. Similar to what happening at the Port or what happened at the Port. When The CWU leadership finally responded, it was something like 2-3 weeks before the sale of FCIB to Heritage was announced. If they had responded when they were supposed to have, no doubt there would have been a new CBA in existence and we would not have anything like the difficulties we are facing. So, that union must not try to make a virtue of incompetence. That union must not use its own default to try to politically pressure government into not discharging its obligation with respect to a situation that affects the banking industry, in which two independent private commercial entities have concluded a sale. All government is doing in passing the vesting act, is to facilitate the transfer of the assets.”

It is of note that FCIB has five branches in the country of Belize; two in Belize City, one in Belmopan, one in Dangriga and one in Orange Walk. The vesting act to transfer the bank's assets is going to the House of Representatives for approval tomorrow and Wednesday.

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