Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020. 10:33 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Owner of the Westline Bus Company, Sergio Chuc, confirmed with Breaking Belize News tonight a memo from his company that started circulating today informing its staff of its tough financial position due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a decision to downsize staff by almost 90%.
According to Chuc, approximately 45 members of staff have since been laid off as the national state of emergency and the subsequent lockdown has taken a toll on the company making it unable to continue operations as per normal.
The company had been providing a weekly subsidy to its displaced employees for the last month, courtesy its owner, however, the company is now unable to continue providing this help. The company will continue to operate at a reduced scale as of Monday, April 27 to transport essential workers only. The company also noted that beyond that, it is yet to learn the definitive schedule of those runs from the Department of Transport and the government.
Westline said it is doesn’t know how long it will be able to continue operating under these conditions and has made the tough decision to reduce management, garage, and security personnel. Furthermore, the company informed that even after the pandemic, it cannot guarantee that all laid off staff will be called back to work but noted that vacation time and money owed for years of service will be honored. “The very few that remain will be receiving a great salary cut,” the company noted.
Chuc said prior to the lockdown of the Cayo district, the government had been considering a duty-free fuel exemption mainly on Diesel for bus companies, however, the status of that decision is still up in the air.
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