Uwahnie Martinez, in 2014, left the first Caribbean Bank of Belize Dangriga Branch after reports that she was discriminated against for speaking in her native Garifuna tongue during office hours. The allegations made headline news and gave the bank a black eye. Now, the bank is being liquidated and its assets are being bought by the Heritage bank of Belize as confirmed yesterday by the Christian Workers Union, which represents the bank employees. After the sale is finalized, 60 of those employees will be left without a job. Uwhanie Martinez left First Caribbean in September of last year after having served 14 years as a bank employee. She called into Plus TV’s Rise and Shine show and weighed in on the conversation. According to Uwhanie Martinez, the writing was on the wall for CIBC First Caribbean.
“Even during the occasion, deprived of our language, that was just part of the distraction, if you may term it that way. There was an article at that time that actually highlighted that First Caribbean was not … Really and truly, the management was grossly being – there is still not much that is required of the management. They were given ultimatums that if they cannot turn the institution around, that this would have happened. This was a year and a half ago. there was no way that they could have done it in the manner that they were managing. This is the result.”
Now some 60 workers will be left without a job. Uhwanie Martinez said that some employees were aware that this was coming, and though they approached the management with suggestions on how to move forward their voices were not considered.
“There have been several occasions where employees have been asking management to change the style, come up with solutions that will fit the market place. Suggestions were given as employees where never listened to. they were ample feedback in several of the e-voice surveys which are internal surveys, as to the discontentment of staff. As to how the business was being ran, not even on how they were being treated. They were concerned themselves about the viability of where we were going.”
The manager of cooperate communications of CIBS First Caribbean Anthony Blackman spoke to members of the media today saying the sale of first Caribbean is quote “Business as usual.” He indicated that they have spoken to all relevant stake holders, including members of their staff, and unions, and that they are doing their best to cushion the dismissal of the 60 employees after the sale is finalized. CWU has indicated that they go to the table with CIBC Thursday to negotiate a new collective Bargaining agreement (CBA)and make it retroactive to January earlier this year due to the fact that the last CBA expired in December last year. Union president Audrey Matura Shepherded further indicated that negotiations on its redundancy package for the 60 employees will also be negotiated and is urging CIBC to make their first proposal so that they can meet at the negotiating table as soon as possible.