The Government of Belize in 2011 seized BEL from Fortis, promising to save the company financially for the benefit of the Belizean people, but will they be able to save the utility from industrial crisis that today, through an official statement from the Belize Energy Workers Union, knocked on its doors. The President of BEWU, Marvin Mora, called the media to an impromptu press briefing where he explained the Unions intention to take industrial action. This comes after yesterday’s meeting with the labor Minister, who acts as the mediating person between BEL and BEWU, from which the Union says it left empty handed.
Marvin Mora, President BEWU: Last night we worked all the way to about 10 o’clock in Belmopan’s office to try and figure out what we were going to get if anything but BEL still holds onto their position. In essence there are certain increases to the cost of manpower that have to happen regardless to whether we have an agreement or not. In essence BEL is saying that their proposals are within the numbers so really and truly they are not giving us anything extra and they are just giving us the status quo.
Reporter: So then where does that leave us? You say that you left last night without any resolution. So what is the union’s position today?
Marvin Mora, President BEWU: Well as you can see all my executives are here with me and we were of the opinion that we had to take that back to the membership and we did. The membership suggested a strike tomorrow and it is over 50% of the Union countrywide who has accepted that preposition so unless we don’t get any resolution to our situation then the union will have to do that strike tomorrow.
Mora says that some 50% to 80% of the union has agreed to partake in the industrial strike tomorrow. Now the question everyone is asking is will this strike, once put into effect, cause national blackouts? This is how Mora responded to that question.
Marvin Mora, President BEWU: Honestly we are talking about the two major services that BEL provide. One is the transmission and distribution and the other one is the customer service. So far we have received very much support from both of those areas which means that those two areas will see little or no service.
Reporter: should we expect blackouts tomorrow?
Marvin Mora, President BEWU: I wouldn’t believe so but it is something that may eventually happen because it is the very same people that will go on strike if it does happen that are the people who will put back the light if the light goes so that is basically what you are making reference to.
The Belize Electricity Workers Union is now calling on the Prime Minister to intervene. This development in the negotiating process comes one day after the Prime Minister announced the date for the next general elections, which is set to take place in less than 40 days.