BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 27, 2020– The effects of COVID-19 continue to impact the lives of people in the country. Tens of thousands of persons had already lost their jobs due to the collapse in the tourism industry and other enterprises as a result of the pandemic. Now, 45 workers of Westline Bus Company who were laid off this week have been added to the ranks of the unemployed. The announcement was made on Friday.
The management of Westline said that due to drastically reduced revenue the company is no longer able to keep on all their workers and has had to lay off 90% of its workforce. The company is now operating with a skeleton staff, and those workers who remain, will get a pay cut.
The company said that the State of Emergency which was put in place to combat the spread of COVID- 19 and which included suspension of bus runs and a lockdown of the Cayo District, took a negative toll on the finances of the company.
The manager of the company said that initially, the company was subsidizing the workers weekly, but the company can no longer help them financially. Presently, the company is only transporting essential workers, and they don’t know how long they can continue to operate under these conditions, and even if the State of Emergency is lifted and regulations in connection with the COVID-19 relaxed, the company cannot be sure that all the 45 laid-off workers will be reemployed.
Sergio Chuc the director of the company, told reporters that workers who are owed vacation pay and payment for their years of service will be paid.
The layoff of the workers took place after the portal for government-sponsored unemployment benefits was closed for new applicants. The program had pledged $300 monthly for those who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Feature photo: Westline departs Belize City Bus Terminal on regular run to Benque Viejo Del Carmen Cayo District