At Monday’s cane farmer’s protest in front of the National Assembly, a few representatives of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize joined the group to lend their support to the farmers.
We asked why the NTUCB president Dylan Reneau was not there, and according to the Second Vice-President of the NTUCB, Marvin Mora, the union has been dealing with its own corruption issues and is also dealing with leadership issues.
Marvin Mora – Second Vice-President of the NTUCB
“We’ve had leaders who’ve been lax, for the better use of the word, been too lax with the issues, and they have not put the pressure, or have not brought these issues to the forefront, for the National Trade Union Congress to be able to ascertain its position. These are the things that it takes time for us to root out, because there is corruption in everything, including in the National Trade union Congress. We’re not going to pull any punches and say that is not so. It is so.
However, be that as it may be, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize has one thing that the Government does not have, the power belongs to the people.
We’re working on several things. One of the things is communication and its working. [We] realize that there are a lot of systems of communication [that] we’re not utilizing to the full potential. So we have to take advantage of those systems, and we have to ensure that we have better communication with the membership, because it is the membership that runs the NTUCB. But the leadership is important.
There may have been one of two very important issues where the NTUCB did not apply the necessary pressure it should have, but you can’t blame it squarely on the NTUCB, because before then you have the leadership who should have been the ones that would bring these things to the forefront as well.”
We also asked Marvin Mora about the positions taken by the Senator for Trade Unions, whether his votes are in line with NTUCB positions on the issues. We specifically asked him to comment on the Senator’s position on a motion by Business Senator Lizarraga, to have CEOs come to the Senate and report on their PetroCaribe spending.
“Whenever you empower somebody to sit down on a particular position, that person basically can have a certain degree of autonomy. That decision that the Senator took at that time was not a position that was endorsed by the Union.
If you notice, when a position is endorsed by the Union, we will come out and say that was endorsed by the Union. When we get ratification for something at a General Council or we go to the full membership [for]endorsement, those are positions that we will pull no punches on!
In this one, he took a personal position, based on the knowledge that he has. He has not come to us to ratify that position or to endorse that position.
But one thing he said right though is that the Trade Union has its own mechanism to demand accountability from Government. One of the mechanisms that the trade Union has to demand accountability from Government comes from the fact that the Trade Union is, for the most part, the representation of the public servants. We have the Public Servants’ Union, or the PSU, that has its own internal mechanism. so it is not that hard for us to know what is happening.
For example: If you notice, we have the Joint Negotiating Team that demanded a Committee to deal with that very same issue of accountability.”
Marvin Mora says that doesn’t only happen in the senate but also in a couple of other boards in which they have representation.
“We have people who represent us in different areas, on different committees and boards and even in the Senate. Just like our government, sometimes we put a government to represent your best interests, like when we were out here [in] 2005, burning and putting pressure on the PUP, who were the Government at that time. Dean Barrow was right here with us. It was because of the Trade Unions, essentially, that he came to prominence and he actually came to power. But the Trades Union realize now that he has forgotten where he came from.
So the Trade Unions are now demanding accountability from him. The Trade Unions are also demanding better governance. How does that happen? How does the Union switch sides? Well, actually the Union does not switch sides.
The Trade Union represents the best interest of the workers, whether the Government is UDP, PUP, or whatever P. Sadly speaking, the same things happen internally. where we put certain members for a particular cause, in a specific position, and those members decide to go on their own, without proper consultation.
This is a case that we’ve seen, not only in the Senate. We’ve seen that in other committees and other boards as well. And, believe you me, it takes us some time, because of the democratic system that we have, to take them out and replace them with better people or people that will serve in our interest, but it does happen.”
At the end of this month NTUCB will have its AGM where they will elect for the general council and the executive council. Current president Dylan Reneau has reportedly indicated that he will not be seeking re-election.