The announcement made last week that Belize’s biggest papaya producer will be closing down in 6 months came as a shock to the residents of the north but most affected by the closing of Fruta Bomba and the Fruit Packers were the over 200 employees that will be left jobless.
But even though the company will stop production until August of this year workers are already being sent home as operations slowly comes to a stop. Today workers from the Research Harvesters and office staff were informed that they no longer had a job with the company and while they were not surprised what took them aback is the amount in gratuity pay they received as more was expected.
“Diez y siete años voy a cumplir el otro mes, y solo me dieron un poquito de dinero.”
“Has investigado en el departamento de labor si eso es lo que debe de cumplir tu estancia aquí en la compañía?”
“No, no sé si ya lo chequearon, tengo cuatro hijos; tres van en la escuela y uno salió del colegio.”
“Que trabajo tu hacías aquí?”
“Harvest! Solo me explicaron que me están pagando mis vacaciones y pues me siento desesperado y no me siento bien porque es poco el dinero que me dieron para tanto tiempo ahora estoy pensando en otro trabajo porque tengo deudas, no me va a dar ni para pagar mis deudas que tengo.”
We understand that about 70 employees were sent home today. In a press release issued at the time of the announcement by the proprietors of the company, Brooks Tropicals, they attributed the closing of the company due to economic conditions, particularly after Hurricane Dean in 2007, have hindered the company's substantial efforts to rebuild to a profitable operation. Efforts included the building of a 16,000 sq. ft. operations building and considerable improvements to growing, packing and nursery facilities and processes. The company stated that their efforts to build and maintain efficient growing and packing operations in Belize over the last three years have not been successful and as a result they have incurred substantial annual losses that the company can no longer sustain.
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