General — 31 January 2018 — by Micah Goodin

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 29, 2018– At the middle of the month, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), whose board is chaired by Dr. Percival Cho, closed its offices and told its employees to return to work in a week.

The announcement caused much uncertainty and fears that the company would be downsizing.

In a statement released following the announcement, it was revealed that PACT was retrenching its employees.

The statement said that they conducted an organization review and concluded that PACT needed to restructure itself to reduce and contain administrative costs.

A consultant was hired to help draft a new operational framework.

The purpose of the framework was to modify job functions, increase operational efficiency and modify a compensation program that would be based on PACT recommendations so as to reduce overhead costs in the long term.

According to the statement, employees were to forego their current employment conditions and adopt new conditions.

Last week the Public Service Union, headed by president Doreth Cayetano Obermayer, responded to PACT’s announcements via a press release. According to the release, the union had been reliably informed that some employees at PACT had been terminated as a result of an ongoing exercise.

It added that some of the remaining staff had been summoned to the office to sign contracts or risk their employment. According to the PSU, the remaining employees were coerced to sign the contracts.

PACT fired back another press release stating that the employees were given a paid leave and a copy of the draft contract to assist them in their consultation and consideration of the new terms, which they had all voluntarily accepted.

According to PACT it received no objections from its employees in the signing of their contracts. PACT claimed that it had informed the union beforehand of the impending transition.

Amandala has been able to confirm that there were several employees who received increases in their salaries after signing on to the new contracts, which are binding for three years.

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