The furor over alleged abuse of power at the KOLBE Foundation has now reached the Prime Minister’s office – or at least it will if a newly formed representative group has its way. The Belize Central Prison Employees Correlation has posted a video on the social networking site Facebook detailing issues they have with the management of the prison under John Woods, specifically that too many employees are being fired without cause. With more here is former prison worker Herman Blease.
Herman Blease – Belize Central Prison Employees’ Correlation
Since January of this year, we had close to 30 employees being either terminated or suspended and even as I speak to you this minute, the head of the I.T section is on suspension – has just been suspended from the prison. Again this speaks to an on-going industrial relationship problem of the prison between the management and the employees. So we’re saying since the first of March, we are going to create a movement that will put a stop to this continuing problem at Kolbe. So, we have gone ahead and met with the N.T.U.C.B, we’ve gone ahead and met with the Ombudsman, and now today, we are here because we have been threatened. The prison has gone ahead a threatened the correlation by issuing instructions through their attorney, that a documentary be removed from Facebook.
Attorneys for Woods have written demanding the removal of the video. The group says it has met with the Ombudsman and Trade Union Congress of Belize.
Abdul Nunez – Former Prison Officer:
We are not crying foul; we’re saying, if you’re going to fight, and it’s a fight you want, then let’s fight fear. But don’t intimidate us. We are asking you to unionize your workers at the Kolbe foundation if you have no fear.
Okay, so the video will remain up on Facebook?
Certainly, unless we are directed otherwise by legal recourse; we intend to leave it there on Facebook to ensure that the public is educated.
But if persons are wrongfully terminated in the country of Belize, they can go to the labor office, and if they feel it’s so wrong, they can take out a civil suit against the former employers.
The core of the issue here with the Kolbe Foundation is, when the prison was privatized to the Kolbe Foundation – the Kolbe Foundation – the prison is managed or run by Chapter 1 of the Laws of Belize. In that law of prison management, they are recourses; there are procedures which have to be followed when you are terminating an employee. The Kolbe Foundation has ignored that law that is Chapter 1, 39. What they have done they have replaced that essentially with Chapter 297 the Labor Act, by saying I can terminate you without cause, without giving you a reason.
The group claims to represent 200 persons.