Employees of Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) are negotiating with their management for a 5% raise of pay. The state-run company has counter-offered at 3.5%.
Still, with a newly reshuffled executive taking control this week, employees at the Church Street office made their stand with a one-minute silent protest in which they knocked their knuckles on their counter-tops at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., causing a short delay in tending to customers.
We are told but have not confirmed that it happened in other BTL offices as well. And while the employees’ protest spoke for them, we gave senior management in the person of Dr. Dionne Chamberlain-Miranda, executive general manager for customer services and public relations, an opportunity to respond.
She explained that negotiations are ongoing and the Executive Committee, having met with the Belize Communications Workers’ Union (BCWU) which represents BTL employees last week Thursday, will now meet with the BTL board on Tuesday to consider the counter-proposal, and emphasized that economic factors are in play.
‘That was the last offer that was on the table. I must explain to you that we were looking at it on a cost of living, increase, and right now, the entire economic landscape around the world, there is still a global recession going on. We want to ensure that what we offer is what we can sustain. The company has to work out of its financials, but like I said, the discussions are not over; the discussions continue on Tuesday. That is what our ex co was able to offer on Thursday. We are meeting again on Tuesday, and that is how it works, back and forth until we meet at an amicable location and destination together”.
The BCWU met with employees in the City yesterday. According to Miranda, the company has no interest in or plans to punish anyone who took part in today’s protest, and she does not expect that it will hinder the progress of the negotiations. She emphasized that the company has great respect for its employees and tries its best to treat them well, media opportunities like today’s notwithstanding.
Dionne Chamberlain Miranda:
“I realize that a lot of people are playing with the media right now, because they know that the media jumps on to everything and we are going through some warm some periods of different things that are happening on political issues and all of that… and it’s a ripe time to use the media. But at the end of the day, one of the things that I must mention is that our ex co chairman mentioned is that without our staff, this company is nothing. We are a fully Belizean company run by a fully Belizean staff complement right now. We are proud of their effort and their sacrifices they’ve putting, the amount of time, the energy that people have been putting at BTL; so, at the end of the day, nothing can go wrong. It is just a matter of us holding the respect that we need to have and I am enthused by the fact that we’ve launched our eight values that we want to operate on with integrity and professionalism is one of them. we just have to get on that page together and move this company forward as a team”.
According to Dr. Miranda, she knows of nothing that could have led to “miscommunication” regarding today’s protest and was not aware that the action would go ahead.
Her only regret is that it took place in front of customers and halted, if only briefly, the steady flow of service at the downtown office. BTL has a fully Belizean staff and has been in Government control since August of 2009.