Latest — 07 February 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Jacqueline Willoughby takes on NTUCB

Willoughby says NTUCB’s Floyd Neal “is not properly seated” in his post, according to their constitution

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 5, 2018– It has been almost one year now since the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) held an extraordinary general meeting at which the Christian Workers Union (CWU) president, Floyd Neal, was elected to the post of president of the NTUCB.

Prior to Neal’s election to the NTUCB presidency, however, there was the issue of back dues that the CWU had owed the NTUCB that led to its suspension in August 2013.

Amandala is in possession of an exchange of letters between NTUCB First Vice President, Jacqueline Willoughby, and the NTUCB General Secretary, Patrick Balan. In her letter, Willoughby addressed the issue of her 1st Vice President post. Willoughby’s letter also cites her “constructive absence” from NTUCB meetings, which was done, based on the fact that she believes that the president Neal “is not properly seated.”

Willoughby addresses her concern thusly: “I am appalled that you write me under the pretense that you do not understand what the issue is. That is disingenuous given the fact that a constitutional issue which does not require a majority vote has been raised, and you continue to treat the matter as nonexistent.”

The letter continues, “It is not left to the general council purely to determine that we will not follow the Constitution. We can vote where there is no provision in the Constitution and a resolution has been passed. But the issue of being properly seated is absolutely addressed. Every meeting I have written to the Congress to have the matter addressed, and every meeting I have been disrespected with not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. So my presence around the table has been constructive absence, in other words, forced because of the unwillingness to abide by our constitution.”

Willoughby went on to express that, “we do not have a properly seated president… Yet we have violated our own Constitution knowing full well that the CWU [fees] was not properly paid up on the 18th March, 2017. Two of us attorneys have gone to great length to explain this and yet the wrong path was chosen. Even so, I proposed a solution that required a simple GC meeting and immediately thereafter, an EGM to fix the matter.”

Willoughby said in her letter that “the council cannot just move on without addressing the substantive matter. Thus, every meeting chaired by designated president is illegally convened, of which I cannot be a part of, on the basis of my knowledge of the law, and my obligation to the workers, among other things.”

The NTUCB General Secretary Balan responded to Willoughby in a letter dated January 31, 2018. In that letter he stated, “In response to your letter dated January 23, 2018, kindly take note of the following: The NTUCB’s Constitution at Article 17 says the following: ‘17.2 – A quorum for any General Meeting (Annual or Extraordinary) shall consist of representation from not fewer than fifty percent plus 1 or all members in good standing’.”

“For your information,” Balan writes, “A member in good standing is defined by Federal statute (of the United States as the following…”

Balan goes on to quote “29 USCS and 402 (6) ‘Member or Member in good standing’ when used in reference to a labor organization …”

Balan did not say what was the relevance of a US law in respect of the NTUCB’s laws.

Balan goes on to make the point that, “To the Congress of the NTUCB’s knowledge, the CWU, at the time in question, was not suspended nor expelled as a member, and neither had their membership been revoked by the AGM of the General Council. What is even more serious is the fact that the Congress found that there are no appropriate proceedings followed in order for the Congress to properly make any such decisions.”

Balan makes the point that the CWU was in good standing when Neal was elected as the NTUCB president.

Amandala has learned, however, that the CWU had paid with a check and the bank did not honor it because there were insufficient funds in the account from which the check was made.

Balan quoted from the NTUCB constitution in his letter to Willoughby. The quotation, however, does not address the core issue that Willoughby raised about the Neal being improperly seated.

Balan ended his letter saying, “If failure to be up to date with the payment of your union’s dues automatically places a union outside of good standing, then all of the above obligations listed would have to be complied with by every single member of the NTUCB, or they are automatically deemed not in good standing, and we already know most, if not all, member unions of the NTUCB would not be able to attend any AGM or EGM, as they would be deemed not in good standing,” implying that other unions also owe the NTUCB.

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Deshawn Swasey

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