The press briefing took place at the CWU headquarters in Belize City, and while according to Audrey Matura-Shepherd, she did not speak in her capacity as the President of the Christian Workers Union (CWU), the unions did come up in the one hour conversation with Lord Ashcroft, as a suggestion that he should meet with the Unions to seek mediation to settle years of legal challenge.
“It passed my mind that one of the entities that has always been very instrumental in moving countries forward are the unions. So I said, ‘You know, maybe you could do a presentation to the unions, because clearly you are having a lot of issues.’ But I didn’t then want to find myself as the only one at the table having a conversation, and the group I think I can influence, that are sober-minded intelligent people, who I know had been working on cost-sharing measures to help the Government save money, that was the union.
I haven’t committed the union. I want that clear. I just threw it out as an idea. I just bounced it off him, and he said he would meet and hear. So, I said, ‘You must understand that the union represents some of those very same entities that were taken away from you.’ And I told him, ‘And the people in the union are very smart. They will ask you pointed questions. If you are prepared to subject yourself to that, I hope that it would be possible.’ And to me that was some measure of comfort.”
As a result of that disclosure, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) held an urgent meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss Audrey Matura-Shephrd’s meeting with Lord Ashcroft. At the meeting Matura was given a chance to speak, where she gave her account of what happened, assuring the congress that she never spoke in her capacity as the President of CWU.
On Thursday we spoke to Audrey Matura-Shepherd via phone who told us more about the meeting.
“They had the opportunity to question me, say any comments they wanted, attack me if they wanted. They asked questions. They understood my position and why. The only concerns they had was ‘You know, we’ve never been faced with this situation like this, but in the future, how do we deal now with the fact that you wear more than one hat?’
On the issue of the union meeting with Mr Ashcroft, I can’t say the answer is yes or no. If the invitation ever comes, the union will meet and make a decision.”