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Belize City Council to proceed with retirement exercise, says Christian Workers Union

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BERNARD WAGNER_3

Posted: Tuesday, July 6, 2021. 5:35 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize City Council has insisted with proceeding on its retirement exercise of scores of Council employees, including 33 belonging to the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU), in two phases.

City Hall says keeping these workers over the retirement age of 55 “represents a ballooning liability on the books and [it] has to be dealt with.”

But according to CWU President Evan “Mose” Hyde, the news “fell from the sky” on the workers and has turned their professional lives and plans upside down.

The CWU’s various appeals – that at least a year’s grace period should be given, that the collective outstanding loans of the union-affiliated workers is more than $337,000; 11 of the 33 have rented accommodations; half of them will be denied gratuity, mainly sanitation workers, who had their terms of service disjointed by privatization of the service in 1999 and subsequent re-joining of the Council in 2015; that fair consideration of these matters be given – was ignored by Mayor Bernard Wagner’s team, and that employees have started receiving their letters.

The Council had boasted of being able to hold on to its 400-plus-member staff during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, and being able to pay short salaries, especially to sanitation workers. Nonetheless, it acknowledged that revenue had practically dried up as collections of taxes, fees and other revenue fell to almost nothing.

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