Labour Commissioner’s report on firings at the Kolbe Foundation to be presented to PM

vlcsnap-2013-08-08-07h34m44s181Tonight, we take a close look at the Labour Commissioner’s report on recent firings at the Kolbe Foundation. Between December 30, 2012 and June 19, 2013… six months… a total  of thirty Three employees  were  no longer employed  with  Kolbe Foundation  at the  Belize Central Prison. That high turnover represented more than 12% of the staff. After several Public complaints against the Kolbe Foundation, including a visit to the Prime Minister by former employees, the Labour Department was instructed to conduct an investigation into the complaints. The findings of the vlcsnap-2013-08-08-07h35m08s191investigation, conducted by Commissioner Ivan Williams, have now made their way to the desk of the Minister of Labour Hon. Godwin Hulse for review. A meeting has been scheduled with the Prime Minister for this Friday to present the findings of the report. The report centered on six complainants: Herman Blease, former Deputy Chief of Security, Abdul Nunez, former Director of Rehabilitation of the Wagner’s Facility, Principal Officer Carla Elizabeth Budna, Security Officer Julius Andrews Elijio, Deputy Chief training officer on Probation Michael Gutierrez and Yuri Sauren Castillo, Record Clerk; All terminated from the Belize central Prison in Hattiville. In the document, Williams raised a number of concerns – the first being what he referred to as a vague letters of termination which was presented to five of the complainants. We quote ” With  the exception of Mr. Elijio they  were terminated not only on hearsay but  arbitrary, without due process and fairness on the instructions of Mrs.Taheera Ahmad the Director of the Belize Central Prison.”  The letters, Williams said, implied that the complainants were employed under a fixed term employment contract, but he found no evidence that non management employees were hired on such a basis! The use of a letter of termination presented to other complainants claims the Commissioner, led to an abuse of the termination process in that the real reason was never told to them, neither were they given an opportunity to respond. “In all instances there was no evidence of due process where  employees are given the opportunity to be heard with or without a representative present”.  Mr Williams found that the “Belize Central Prison Procedural Manual  Administration Part 1of 2011 was never formally adopted by the vlcsnap-2013-08-08-07h35m46s41Kolbe Management. The necessary consultation  with the employees have not be done to date, Kolbe does not prepare proper  job descriptions for all its employees and does not establish clear terms of employment. The investigation also found six other former  employees who also received similar vague letters  of termination with no evidence of due process.   Several other allegations were investigated including long shift hours, no overtime compensation, termination and suspension by text messages, and the right to unionize. Because these matters are now before the Supreme Court the Commissioner did not include those allegations in anticipation of the outcome of the civil suits.  While the Labour Commissioner’s report found that, with the exception of overtime claims, all complainants were paid their lawful entitlements in accordance with the Labour Act, he recommended that a Human Resource Unit be employed as part of the management structure of the Belize Central Prison and that the Ministry of National Security provide greater oversight to minimize employment conflicts. And while a meeting with the PM is pending, the CEO of the Kolbe Foundation, Earl Jones, has responded to the report, saying that Williams made some crucial mistakes in his investigation that led to spurious pronouncements.

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