Bowen and Bowen ex employees were on Rise and Shine this morning to give their side of the story as to why and how they were fired from their posts.
The unions have joined with the ex employees to ask the public to boycott Bowen and Bowen products tomorrow , Friday March 21. Six of the nineteen terminated, appeared on the show and said they have never had any problems with the company until the changing of the system on March 3rd.
Employee 1: “No problem until this new system come out. They are trying to push that system. We are telling them it is hard to work out. One man can;’t do all the work. they want like about five of us do the job of the whole Belize City and we can’t”.
Sideman, Employee 2: “They came up with the new system that they cut your pay from 14 cents to 4 cents on commission and your flat rate remains the same on sideman, not 27% across the board as was mentioned in the news”.
“In the case of us drivers, originally, the flat pay was supposed to remain the same and our commission dropped from 20 cents per case to 5 cents actually.(now, they are saying 7, as you can see, it is a very big drop. They have been cutting our income from all corners . What we really didn’t agree with is that these guys presented the contract to us, and that’s why they say Mr, Manager, it is what it is, you either take it or leave it”.
Employee 3: “The thing is that why we really decided to stand up is because they don’t want to pay us any overtime. So, we will be working from 60-70 hours a week and no overtime; that’s unfair!”
Employee 3: “Whenever I mention it to them, like…they don’t listen to what i got to say; they just take it for granted like, ‘oh, ah no waa lisn tu he!’
Employee 4: “Most of the times they have meetings to explain this, they tell us it is not an open forum meeting. So, they just want to dictate to us. That is the reason we have a problem with it because we ask for opportunities that we could explain our points and they refuse to allow us that opportunity”.
Even though they say they agree that companies have the right to transition and develop new systems for better efficiency, they say they still disagree with how the new system functions. They tell us why.
Mr. Loius Wade: “When you roll this new calculation, you would be taking home…”
Sideman Employee 2: “About four hundred and change, because I am not making overtime”.
Employee 4: “That is just telling you that when you deliver 744 cases in one day, what are you talking about? You would have to start to work from 6:00 a.m. until around 9:00 in the night! After a very long and herd day of work, 11:30 in the 3rd March, (in the night), that is when I saw this in writing for the first time, and I ever got an idea of what the income would be. The other thing why we disagreed to sign this paper is because, if you look to the bottom here, they are asking you to waive your previous rights”.
Mr. Loius Wade: “It says here, “I acknowledge that I have read and understood and I accept the above status change and all responsibilities as per complying to the job description and I agree to waive the notice period for notice for the change in commission based on the increase”.
Mr. Jonathan Sosa: “Because they are supposed to give us a notice period according to the amount of time you have in their company, like, if I have over 5 years, they should have given me 8 weeks written notice on the intention of changing a contract and I did not get that. Poor weaks of these guys who has less than 5. None of us got that notice. So, now they got smart and they said, guys, do you know what? Guys, unuh sign and unuh agree to waive your rights. How will we do that?”
Employee 5: “The guys in the center are taking a lickin’ because we see them in the night around 8 still out and they are still not getting overtime”.
The group also told Rise and Shine hosts whether there are any negotiations on going with the company at this time .
Mr. Jonathan Sosa: “All we want is justice. Open the eyes to the nation to let them see what is going on with Bowen and Bowen…because when we went to the Labour Department, we were told that we re going to meet with Bowen and Bowen, because when the Commissioner as a mediator and when a matter like this arrives, usually he meets with one group, which is the first meeting and he meets with the opposition group which is the second meeting, and the third meeting is supposed to be both side along with the Commissioner together to iron out this problems here,. Up to this date, we don’t get such meeting. Nobody from management from Bowen and Bowen has come to say, in my case, well, Jonathan Sosa,you are fired, we don’t need your services anymore. No one from Bowen and Bowen has had that courage to face no one of us up to today’s day”. All we know is what we know you guys say what you media houses publish. the feedback I get from the Labour Commissioner is that they don’t want to meet with us because they are afraid of us. Come on guys! You have known us for 6, 8, 3 years. Our police record doesn’t say that we are criminals. So, why are you afraid of us? We don’t want to hurt you. We don’t have a “personal beef” as they call it. We just want our rights to be respected”.
With the call to boycott the company products for one day, Bowen and Bowen has responded via a press release saying that
“It is regrettable that a small group of former employees continue to act in a manner which affects the livelihood of over 900 of their former co-workers; putting them at risk by tarnishing the company’s reputation which could affect sales, directly affecting commissions, warehouse operations, distribution and production.”
They told us more about the planned boycott.
Group of Former Employees: “Well, we are asking the public to support us in our act of standing up for our rights. The Union Estate. We are asking to boycott the company. Hold back from their products tomorrow and Saturday. The next thing is for the minister tin charge of this tribunal, Mr. Erwin to try to get it set up, so that we poor black Belizeans could get assisted by someone. We don’t want to defame the company and we don’ want to sabotage the company. Al we want is to be treated right and fairly; we wants our rights to be respected. That is all we want”.
In its press release, Bowen and Bowen reminded that it is one of the largest single employers in Belize and they are committed to going above and beyond the law to provide benefits and job security to their employees.