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Members of the Belize Energy Workers Union (BEWU) protested today in front of Belize Electricity Limited company headquarters calling for better wages and a better pension plan. Members held placards asking for 8% increase in salaries as well as a 10% increase in pension; something they say is currently only being offered to senior executives of the company. BEWU is currently in negotiations for a Revised Partnership Collective Agreement (PCA) with BEL.  Negotiations commenced on November 4, 2014 and later the groups entered mediation last month on June 26, 2015 with the Labour Commissioner after failure to arrive at an agreement. According to a press release received from BEL, the Union had presented a request for a 62% increase in salaries and benefits while the Company presented a counter proposal for 24%. The BEWU walked away from the negotiating table and led a sickout which BEL deemed a strike and reported the matter to the Labor Department. BEL says it later increased its offer from 24% to 29% with two conditions: an adjustment to the sick days benefit to require employees to produce a medical certificate for 1-day absence due to illness and a return to the vesting period for the Pension Fund from 7 to 15 years. In 2014, BEL achieved $36 million in profit, primarily due to savings in the cost of power. This $22 million savings in cost of power is being passed on to customers via a reduction in electricity rates, $11 million was paid in dividends to shareholders and the Company is proposing to further increase total salaries and benefits to over $20 million per year at the end of the four years.vlcsnap-2015-07-21-09h22m43s236 vlcsnap-2015-07-21-09h22m29s116

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