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Unpaid BML workers vent frustration at the wrong place - No Charges for BML employees Print E-mail
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Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:00

“Every time a situation comes up and this matter comes up, its poor people that suffers. Why does it have to be us that suffers?” – Helen Samuels, Employee of the Belize Maintenance Limited. 

On Monday, August 4, over 40 employees of the Belize Maintenance Limited were led by Delroy Herrera to protest in front of the Belize City Hall without a permit or even prior notice to the Belize Police Department. They were taken from BML’s office to City Hall in the company’s bus. The protestors assembled in front of City Hall with no placards. Instead, a BML truck parked in front of City Hall on North Front Street from which employees emptied bags of garbage in the middle of the street.

The filthy street was a dispicable eyesore. The City Hall is next to the Fort Street Tourism Village and Zone. It is one of the busiest areas of the city but the commotion locked down the entire area. Traffic was diverted and police were called in to disassemble the angry mob. Senior Superintendent Edward Broaster informed the crowd that they were conducting an illegal protest because they did not apply for a permit. He also informed them that they could be fined for throwing the garbage on the street. However, he suggested that they pick up back the garbage and leave the area then he would not press charges. Egged on by self proclaimed “organizer”, Herrera, the workers refused to comply with Broaster. When the police increased man power, Herrera said to Broaster, “We will disperse but we are leaving the garbage.” This was unacceptable to the Senior Superintendent who instructed police officers to intercept the BML bus on Queen Street and arrest everyone involved in the illegal protest.

The 40 plus protesters were arrested for taking part in an unlawful assembly. By Tuesday, August 5, police were only able to process the charge sheets for 28 of the accused. Those individuals were arraigned and granted bail. The 40 plus were also ticketed for littering which is an immediate fine of $500. There is a fifteen day window for paying the fine and an additional $130 charge for late fee. The fine increases by $30 each day beyond the deadline. The BML employees led to protest illegally by Herrera are minimum wage workers; such a fine is a back breaker for them. Numerous employees complained that they were not involved in the emptying of garbage bags on the street. Unfortunately, they were charged in a mob and the mob “organizer” has been silent since his followers have been forced to face the consequences of their actions. The employees have been left to wonder how it is they would pay a $500 fine in fifteen days.

Fortunately for the BML employees, Prime Minister Barrow has been following the situation closely. He negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding between BML and the Belize City Council to pave a way towards the end to their business relationship. More importantly; however, PM Barrow spoke to Senior Superintendent Broaster who assured him that the charges would not be brought against the employees who have not been arraigned as yet. Also, Broaster pledged to have the charges dropped against the individuals who have already been arraigned. Likewise, Mayor Darrel Bradley announced that the littering tickets issued to the protestors will be cancelled. He says, “We understand that their actions were taken out of a sense of fear.” Mayor Bradley says he understands that the individuals are concerned about their jobs and he believes the Council is at fault to an extent for their actions.

Prime Minister Barrow and Mayor Bradley also announced that the Council will hire the BML workers in January of 2015 when the sanitation contract expires.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 14:40