Fruta Bomba and Belize Food Packers fire 123 employees Print E-mail
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Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00

Brooks Tropicals the parent company for Fruta Bomba & Belize Food Packers Ltd., which is the sole papaya exporter from Belize, has terminated the services of 123 employees. The announcement was made on Friday February 19 and is part of the companies winding down of operations in Belize. The company had over 250 employees and over the next 6 months those will all be terminated.

In a release from the Ministry of Labor and Local Government it states that, “The Ministry of Labour, is currently working closely with the management of the company and the affected employees, to ensure that the legal requirements under redundancy are complied with and most importantly that the wages and terminal benefits due to all employees by law are paid.”

Earlier this month on February 9th, the companies began to lay off workers and the ministry says that it had already been engaged with workers to offer them advice to verify their payments.

Fruta Bomba and Belize Food Packers have been operating in Belize for 22 years but it met financial hard times after hurricane Dean in 2007 with the company being unable to rebound from losses it suffered during that storm.

Brooks Tropicals is the sole exporter of papayas their withdrawl now represents a complete exit by Belize from the papaya export industry.

According to Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jose Alpuche, the companies enjoy EPZ status as well as other fiscal incentives including tax incentives which are afforded in Belize and there is not much more that the government can do to assist the companies any more. The CEO says that a large economic hindrance to the company is the cost of labor. Currently they are sourcing fruit from Guatemala and are also investing in the Dominican Republic. He said that labor cost in the latter country is at .33U.S. cents while in Belize it is $1.65U.S. per hour.

With the laying off of the workers, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Gaspar Vega expressed that he is hopeful that these employees will be able to be absorbed by the sugar industry which is currently at its harvesting stage.