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WASA fires 16 - 19 more to go? Union threatens to strike

The Reporter, 19 April 2000

More than 280 employees of the Belize Water and Sewerage Authority have agreed to strike in 21 days if the utility company does not rehire 16 employees who were fired last Friday.

President of WASA Workers' Union Russell Young told Reporter Tuesday evening that WASA's management informed the union executive in a meeting last Friday that the terminations are part of a major reorganization process which will see approximately 35 workers fired.

"The direct disrespect for the union shown by management and the failure to honor our collective agreement will not be tolerated," the union said in a press release issued Tuesday. "We now serve the Water and Sewerage Authority with 21 days notice (effective April 18) leading up to possible industrial action."

Of the 16 workers fired, seven were from the Benque Viejo branch, one from Santa Elena, Cayo, three from Orange Walk and five from Punta Gorda. According to the union, by Tuesday morning, eight new employees had already been hired to fill vacant positions.

Young said: "No notice was given to the union or employees; article 17 (of the collective agreement) states that the service of employees cannot be terminated without reason and that the union must be called in before termination; in the event (of a termination), management and union must agree. None of this took place."

In an official statement issued Tuesday evening, WASA said the terminations were part of a ?comprehensive reorganization exercise? that has affected both management and staff alike.

"One unfortunate result of that exercise has been the termination of the services of 16 employees," the statement said.

Young, said that the union is calling for a meeting with WASA's management to discuss the issue.

"We want to know why this reorganization was carried out and what it entails," he said. Up to press time, WASA's management had not responded to the union's request to meet.

19th April 2000