The National Trade Union Congress of Belize held elections over the weekend to re-elect a new executive. If you would recall, back in December the Union body held elections and returned Marvin Mora to his position of National President. But because of the wording of the Congress’ constitution which prohibits persons who have served two consecutive terms in the Union from running again, Mora’s win was overturned. Since then, Jacqueline Willoughby has acted as President.
In the new elections, Willoughby offered herself for the Union leadership but it was not to be. She was defeated by newcomer to Unionism, Floyd Neal, who got 45 votes to Willoughby’s 21. A third contender, Hubert Enriquez, eventually withdrew his candidacy.
Neal addressed the media yesterday and said that he hopes to restore the image of the NTUCB.
Floyd Neal, newly-elected NTUCB President
“Doubt, the narrative out there, the image most Belizean workers have at the NTUCB is of a toothless tiger, we need to change that we need to change that so my own thinking is that we need to get the word out that the day of NTUCB being a toothless tiger are behind us and we need to do things, we need to take steps, we need to forge partnerships which will let the powers that be recognized, it’s a new day, but again we need to have that conversation that discussion at the executive table along with the GEC how do we change the narrative, how do we change the image the NTUCB has.”
While Neal will lead the umbrella movement, he is joined by Vice President Jacqueline Willoughby and Lorelei Westby; General Secretary Patrick Balan, Assistant General Secretary Fayne Nicasio; Treasurer Jorge Mejia; Deputy Treasurer Sharon Fraser; Auditor Edmund Zuniga; Councilor Jose Escalera; Trustees Ramiro Gongora and Daniel Luna and Directors of Education and General Affairs Edlred Neal and Marianne Vasquez.
With such a diverse group and, naturally, competing interests, how will the newcomer lead the body? Neal said he is confident that the team can overcome its challenges.
Floyd Neal, newly-elected NTUCB President 2
“Let’s be real, we represent a diverse constituency, there will be competing interest, these things happen as a consequence of people involvement with one another now we need to draw a line learn the lessons from what has happened in the past and know what we need to do go forward so that we don’t fall into those same traps again, so I will not focus on what happened in the past we need to be lazy focus I would say on what needs to happen going forward, we need all hand on deck so the conservation that will happen at the, around the table at the next EC might get tense but we all need to clear the ear be sure what it is we want to do and how we are going to do it, once we settle with that we will move forward and the narrative will different the image will be different.”
Of interest is Neal’s history. While his background is communications, he admitted that he worked at the UDP newspapers the Beacon under then editor Michael Finnegan and then the Pulse. Neal said he left to the United States where he lived for 17 years before returning to Belize. Neal is also the General Secretary of the Christian Workers Union under Audrey Matura-Shepherd who is the President.