Features — 23 July 2013 — by Adele Ramos
Labour Commissioner on the Kolbe report

Disclosure to NTUCB pending

Two more persons came public last week saying that they had been abruptly terminated by The Kolbe Foundation, which manages the Belize Central Prison. The Belize Central Prison Coalition, an ad hoc group that has been trying to get prison workers unionized, told our newspaper today that they have yet to hear of the final outcome of an investigation which Minister of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development and National Emergency Management and Immigration and Nationality, Godwin Hulse, had commissioned Labor Commissioner Ivan Williams to undertake, in light of the allegations against Kolbe.

Today, Williams told Amandala that he has completed his investigation and last week, the final report was turned in to the minister.

Minister Hulse confirmed that he received that report late last week, and he will also pass that report over to the National Trade Union Congress of Belize.

Hulse told us that he doesn’t yet have any comment on the Labour Commissioner’s report, because although he had seen the draft, he has not yet had a chance to read the final report himself.

Williams has also declined comment on the final report. He told our newspaper today that it is for the minister to decide what to do.

Williams said that workers who feel aggrieved should file a formal complaint if they want the Labour Department to investigate. He told us that despite the fact that there have been claims of excessive firings at Kolbe, he has only seen six persons with complaints.

He noted that under the labor law amendments, complaints can be filed if a worker suspects unfair dismissal or termination.

Williams said that employers cannot dismiss or terminate workers on grounds such as discrimination, union participation, sex, gender, political opinion or HIV status.

Whereas Williams declined to say whether he observed anything anomalous about the rate of terminations at Kolbe, he told us that there is a need for proper employment relations to be established between management and staff. New terms were never established after the Government privatized the prison, he told us.

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