The Christian Workers Union (CWU) underwent sweeping changes in late 2013, after the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) made a controversial decision to axe the union after revelations that it was not participating in the NTUCB, as the constitution requires, and that the union was not in good financial standing.
Today though, 10 months after that decision, the NTUCB announced that it is readmitting the CWU into its fold.
“Since December of 2013, after the CWU conducted free, fair and transparent elections, securing a governance structure aligned to its constitution, the NTUCB has been working with the CWU to restore the union to its rightful place under the Congress’ umbrella,” a statement from the NTUCB said.
Dylan Reneau, NTUCB president, told Amandala that the CWU’s Acting General Secretary, Floyd Neal, attended the NTUCB’s monthly General Council meeting, reactivating the CWU’s participation in the Congress.
He told us that the CWU, which is now being led by Audrey Matura-Shepherd as president, has also entered into an arrangement with the NTUCB to pay off the fees owed, and it has resumed payment of current fees.
Reneau said that the CWU has also been meeting with membership, keeping them abreast of its affairs.
In welcoming back the CWU, the NTUCB said, “The congress anticipates a fruitful, dynamic synergy among the members of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize; as we recognize CWU, as one with us!”
It added that it looks forward to forging new realms, working with the CWU and aiming to assist the union to fortify its membership and promote unionism and workers’ representation countrywide.
Of note is that while Antonio Gonzalez, the former president of the CWU, and James McFoy, the former general secretary, were voted out in elections held by the CWU last year, McFoy and Gonzalez are claiming that they were released without pension.
Reneau suggested that elected union officials do not claim pension from their union, but we understand that Gonzalez and McFoy have appealed to Labour authorities in their claim for pension benefits from the CWU.
We understand that a complaint has been lodged with the Labour Commissioner over the matter, but the dispute has yet to be resolved.
When we contacted Gonzalez today, he was reserved in commenting. He told Amandala that he and McFoy are “just looking into it” and “trying to find an amicable solution with the current leadership” of the CWU.