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Despite impasse, City Council, CWU leave room for negotiation on collective bargaining agreement proposals

mose hyde

Posted: Thursday, January 28, 2021. 6:31 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize City Council is expressing its concerns about proposals by the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) on behalf of its union members for increases across the board in salaries, increments, and allowances, which it says come too close to the upcoming election.

But the Union and its president, Evan “Mose” Hyde, contend that it is the Council that has neglected its duty by not responding quickly enough with counter-proposals that would form the basis of negotiation.

Nonetheless, both sides appear to agree that there is still room to negotiate.

The Council writes that “the proposed CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] will have a direct, immediate and profound financial and managerial impact,” citing a proposal for a new and increased salary scale including three increments per scale; successive salary increases amounting to 12 percent; the establishment of an attendance bonus equivalent to 10 percent of salary and increases in allowances. It was also pointed out that a majority of deferred salaries from April to June 2020 as agreed were paid and the remainder would be paid upon the appearance of enough revenue and/or on a staff member’s departure.

Asked whether perhaps the Union is asking for too much at this time of economic downturn, Hyde told us, “This is what the City Council should be doing; it is not to be done at a press conference where issues with our proposals are being identified. That is why we have given the proposals and that is why the time has been given – why we have sat patiently for 15 to 16 months…we hope the City Council has read [the proposals], and what we want for them to do is to point out the things they can do and point out the things they can’t do, and make the case why they can’t, and we are given the opportunity to counter that. That is the natural process of negotiation.”

And Hyde says that apart from writing, calling, and making respectful requests formally and informally, he sees no way they could have done more; yet later on, he denied being approached to discuss the CBA at a December 23 meeting, something he called “an absolute lie.”

In Hyde’s telling, the Council and the Union were discussing a change of commitment to provide the 50% remaining, outstanding salaries that were taken during the height of the pandemic. And they changed it and the members were in an uproar and we engaged them to try and see if we could have a resolution.

The CBA came up in the context of that discussion where, according to Hyde, the Union was chastised for not showing gratitude that workers were not terminated or furloughed and responded by setting a deadline of the end of the week to hear back about the counter-proposal.

However, sanitation unit representative Jeffrey Trapp did commend the Council for not considering mass termination of a union that swelled with the taking on of most workers from the former Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) under former Mayor Darrell Bradley, at the engineering of then Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

Hyde mentioned that the expiration date of the CBA doesn’t mean it is not operational; the expired CBA still applies until and unless a new one is negotiated.

 

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