BEL Energy Workers Reject Mediation, Prepare For Industrial Action; Minister Not Giving Up

Saturday, September 4, 2015. BMG: Minister of Labour Senator Godwin Hulse says he has not given up on mediating the dispute between the management of Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) and the Belize Energy Workers Union (BEWU); but it appears the Union has.  Godwin Hulse

According to 7 News the Union wrote to Hulse this week saying it does not think the mediation is working; accusing the company of “ill-will” toward them, and invoking the 21-day notice of industrial action which it says is past due.

But in a media interview, Sen. Hulse preached restraint, saying that after 10 meetings the Union cannot walk away if BEL continues to participate as indicated by a note from CEO Jeffrey Locke to the Minister sent on to the CEO. According to Hulse, the Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act grants the Minister power to, if he determines that mediation is not working out, to appoint a tribunal for arbitration and he has made no such decision.

“I have not yet determined that mediation has not worked. In fact I think it is working. We are making little steps, but we are making steps and we will not quit, because this is a matter that we can resolve, should resolved and must resolved. That’s basically where we are,” Hulse said.

Hulse says he has spoken to the Union’s president and the CEO has communicated with NTUCB President Marvin Mora, also a Union executive, asking for patience as they move toward resolution. He would be “disappointed” by any strike action called although he recognized the membership’s dictates to the executives. He noted that now that the ownership of the company has been settled they can devote time and energy to resolve the outstanding issues.

But the Union wrote, “For these reasons the Union membership is of the general opinion that the BEWU will have to take industrial action leading up to a general strike in order for our demands to be met by an inflexible, inconsiderate and disrespectful employer.”

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