Head office manager, Elvis Canul, and staff at Saint Francis Xavier Credit Union staged a walkout today following an unproductive meeting with senior management. Members are invited to protest in Corozal tomorrow.
COROZAL TOWN, Thurs. June 30, 2022
Today, the staff at the main branch of St. Francis Xavier Credit Union in Corozal Town staged a walkout, led by the head office manager, Elvis Canul. The decision was made this morning following a fruitless meeting between Canul and the management of the credit union concerning the suspension of 14 staff members without his knowledge, he said in an interview today.
“We want to categorically put a bold statement to the new board and management that, in the event that has to happen where 14 employees were unjustifiably suspended and as the head office manager, I was not even consulted,” Canul stated.
He said that the decisions can be considered discriminatory and will affect the morale of, and services rendered by, the staff of the credit union. He also noted that after he had a discussion with the board of the credit union at the first meeting, no resolutions were reached, and that triggered the action by staff, which he says will continue tomorrow.
“I am here as the head office manager to stand firm in solidarity with the people who were unjustifiably suspended. That is the main purpose of our stand today. We are also inviting members for tomorrow; we will have a peaceful demonstration here around the park in solidarity with this cause that is happening,” Canul said.
The letters sent to the employees from the board of the credit union indicated that they were being placed on an indefinite suspension and were under investigation for matters of breach of confidentiality.
“Letter states somethings that are very vague. It is important to note that [one] of these employees is a janitress. Why would a janitress be suspended with the allegation that they say that they have? Another point is why would the suspension of some of the staff be related when they are doing their work. They were instructed by the past board and management to do work, and because they feel that it was to hurt this new current board, they are victimizing all of those, and that is the purpose of those letters going like that,” Canul said.
While he agrees that much has to be done to strengthen the credit union in order to be able to deliver quality service to its members, he believes that the decision to suspend those 14 persons was not a prudent one.
“I had a meeting with them, our first meeting, where I was so disappointed, in the decision that they took. I was not informed of the content of the letter, nothing, and unfortunately I was the one to execute those letter when Mr. Domiguez should have sent those letters to them. So, he is in a position where he just wants to come and say do this, and the credit union has grown, and we need prudent decisions in management to serve better our members,” Canul said.
The current turmoil at the credit union is just an extension of an ever-widening rift within the credit union that followed the previous board’s decision to not renew the contract of the credit union’s general manager, Rafael Dominguez, Sr. An AMANDALA article dated May 25 reported that, “on May 9, persons who claimed to be members of the union who were disgruntled with decisions of the union’s … board of directors issued a press release in which it was announced that the ‘long-awaited Annual General Meeting’ of the union—which had not been held for three years due to the pandemic—would take place on May 29. Those purported members, who included assurances in the statement that they had obtained the Health Ministry’s approval to hold the event, seemed eager to carry out elections of officers of the board, which they said is long overdue, and to address what they believe are troubling actions by those at the helm of the institution.Those actions included what they referred to as ‘unethical behaviors by high-ranking officials’ and the ‘illegal dismissal of the general manager’. The persons who issued the statement further claimed that a special petition for the addressing of these matters had been circulated and that over 2,000 of the union’s members had affixed their signatures to that petition.”
The board of the union later issued its own statement, in which it denied the allegations of unethical behavior and indicated that an AGM would be held on June 26. Days before that meeting was held, however, a circular from the credit union’s board of directors dated June 22, stated that the Caye Caulker branch manager, Rafael Dominguez, Jr., and San Pedro branch manager, Lina Garcia, were both terminated “as a result of the violation of the St. Francis Xavier Credit Union Ltd. code of ethics and the Misuse of Confidential Information.” It was alleged that the two former branch managers dispersed confidential information pertaining to credit union members publicly via fake accounts. However, there was speculation that those managers were targeted because of their affiliation with Rafael Dominguez, Sr.
Notably, however, when the credit union’s AGM was held on Sunday, June 26, the members of the credit union unanimously voted for the reinstatement of Dominguez, Sr., and the majority of those members who attended the AGM also selected persons who were on Dominguez’s team to fill posts on the credit union’s board of directors, as well as its credit committee and supervisory committee. It is the newly elected board that is now being accused of unfairly suspending 14 workers.