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#396700 - 01/08/11 03:27 PM National Transport employees out of a job
Marty Online   happy
Tonight the unemployment line is getting longer. Employees of National Transport are officially out of jobs. The announcement came today through the Labour Commissioner, Ivan Williams, who said that the Receiver of National Transports and Bel Bus, Kevin Castillo, informed that he would not resume the bus operations. The employees, some of whom had previously received two weeks pay during the Christmas season, had reportedly been told that business would resume on December twenty-eighth. Today’s decision now places them in a precarious position because while the majority still has not received any kind of benefit payments, they are now not employed. Another problem, according to Williams, is that the Department cannot ascertain the number of employees; the Novelo brothers claim there are two hundred and seventy-five but the Labor Department can only account for eighty-three.

Channel 5

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#396701 - 01/08/11 03:28 PM Re: National Transport employees out of a job [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
No jobs, no pay - transport workers’ suffering continues!


About 50 persons congregated outside the offices of the Labour Department on Albert Street West in Belize City on Tuesday of this week, in a continuation of the saga of National Transportation Services Limited (NTSL), put into receivership by the Belize Bank nearly a month ago.

They allege that receiver for the Bank, Kevin Castillo, has apparently reneged on a commitment to resume runs for the company as of December 28, 2010, after reaching an agreement with the Labour Department to pay the company’s workers two weeks’ salary on Christmas Eve, December 24. About eighty-three employees of an estimated 275 received payment.

According to fired Operations Manager for NTSL, Philip Jones, the agreement was that the company would resume operations on the 28th, and there was an understanding that the workers left out in the cold would resume working for the company – in fact, Castillo claimed, they had never actually lost their jobs.

Since then, there has been no word either from the receiver, Castillo, or from Labour, and on Tuesday the workers sought answers.

But they will have to continue to wait, as they were told that a meeting would be arranged with Castillo by the end of this week.

The Labour Department contends that they do not have complete records as to the employment rolls for National Transport, Bel-Bus Limited (put in receivership December 1, 2010), and Belize Metro and Belize Transit Limited.

But Jones maintains that they have provided everything that Labour needs and that the receiver is “using tactics to prolong the process.”

Jones has been taking a prominent role in fighting for the benefits of his fellow employees, and on Tuesday he defended company directors David and Antonio Novelo, saying that they have been actively participating and are pursuing the legal route, but that in the meantime the receivership is responsible for the workers’ fate.

“Either they put us back to work, or if we are not going back to work, then we should get our pay,” said Jones. “We have to make the stand; there is a track record with this receiver, that he has not been doing a proper job. It happened with Novelos’ Bus Line and we will not sit down and see it happen again at National Transport.”

Jones continues to warn of a possible protest in front of the Belize Bank if the workers do not get what is owed to them.

We spoke to a number of senior employees from the Western Zone, in which NTSL lost a heavy number of runs in 2008, who say they were not among those paid on the 24th.

Fidel Cocom, a supervisor at the company’s base in Benque Viejo, and some of his co-workers – mechanic Neftali Pech and his assistant Alejandro Martinez; the supervisor of the Benque to San Ignacio run Juan Alberto Arreaza; Benque office assistant Anna Ochoa and San Ignacio terminal supervisor Anthony Ayala – told Amandala that the last four weeks or so have been painful for them and their families, as their jobs remain in limbo.

“I feel like I am drowning,” Cocom said. “We have been left behind like garbage. They have treated us worse than animals. Even a camel can travel the desert without water for seven days. I haven’t seen a dollar since December 10. I have to borrow from my friends and family, but I can’t keep doing that forever.”

Of the Labour Department, he questioned: “Are they there to work for all Belizeans, or only some? We need our complaints addressed now, immediately, no waiting. The receiver didn’t wait to take our buses. So we can’t wait for him, either.”

Miss Ochoa told us, “I am an employee of National Transport. How can the receivership say they don’t know who the employees are? The Commissioner (Ivan Williams) told us that they didn’t even come to Benque; they sent someone to Benque to stop the buses.”

And there are other pressing matters, as Cocom showed us documents for the lease of office space, a bathroom and two parking spaces at the compound of the Savannah Taxi Cooperative on Savannah Street in San Ignacio, for which they owed two months’ rent, $300 per month, and counting.

“I want what is owed to me. At least the two weeks’ salary; I haven’t been paid since December 10,” Narciso Chan, a driver from Corozal, told us.

According to Jones, the receivership is not barred from resuming runs in the North, where an injunction is in place against the Transport Board from 2008, pending the results of a court case that continued this week in the Supreme Court. There are 8 regular runs from Belize City to Chetumal, Quintana Roo; three to Maskall on the Old Northern Road; and two Premier Line runs from Belize City to Chetumal.

The receiver, Kevin Castillo, continues his silence, and both Chief Transport Officer Gareth Murillo and Labour Commissioner Ivan Williams were out of office when we tried to contact them today concerning the situation.

Indications are that the promised meeting between attorneys for NTSL, the receiver and Labour did not go through as planned.

Amandala

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#396702 - 01/08/11 03:29 PM Re: National Transport employees out of a job [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

National Transport Workers Officially Fired

National Transport went into receivership a month ago - and since then workers have been waiting to get paid, and waiting also to get their jobs back since word was that the receiver would resume operations. Well that won't happen: National's Road Service Permits have been revoked and all the workers have been officially terminated. That's right, all 275 are out of work. The labour commissioner gave them the bad news today after the receiver called him to say they are not resuming operations. Andrea Polanco spoke to him at him at 5:00 this evneing:…

Ivan Williams, Labour Commissioner
"Yes Andrea there was a very important meeting today with the persons who claim that they are employees of National Transport and Belbus. The two companies who are under receivership. Basically there are concern as I mention the last time as to where they stand with respect to their employment status and if they are terminated what next in terms of termination benefits and I was able to get information from the receiver that in fact the busses will not be running and in effect, actually he has confirm that the services have been terminated of the employees and I share that with the workers or the proposed workers that their services have been terminated."

Phillip Jones, Former Operations Manager, National Transport
"It's not what we expected what came out of the meeting that the commissioner has assured us that the labor department is doing everything necessary to ensure that we receive our benefits."

Andrea Polanco
"So at this time 275 employees are no longer employed and so they will have to go and seek employment elsewhere."

Phillip Jones, Former Operations Manager, National Transport
"You know at least we have some closure because we were promise by the receiver that business would have been resume the 28 and it seems now that that hope is lost and for like myself we can put this behind us and try to start over and we have some sort of closure that there will be no more employment at national transport so we need to find something to try to sustain our family."

Andrea Polanco
"But tell me Phillip do you think it's fair to the 275 employees that they were told that the receivers would resume operations and there was a possibility that they will get back their jobs only to hear now that they have been terminated. Do you think it's unfair to them?"

Phillip Jones, Former Operations Manager, National Transport
"Well I think it's very unfair on the receiver part that the very first start the receiver has been very disingenuous, I believe he had misled us and it's unfortunate playing such sort of games, he has his position but we have hope and confidence."

Ivan Williams, Labour Commissioner
"We still have not been able to definitively declare who are the employees of National Transport and Belbus. But we were able to gather along with the workers to agree on a number of things that we could probably look at to ascertain, because remember the official of the company is still somewhere where we don't know where it is and so we've listen to them, we've assured them that we will do all that is within our power to ensure that their rights are protected and so on and so we have agreed on a number of things which I don't really want to share with the public in terms of how we will bypass this issue of definitively declaring who are the employees but that's something that we will be working on and so by sometime next week Wednesday we are hopeful that we have enough information on which we can have a more meaningful discussion with the receiver in terms of termination and benefits."

And so while the Labour Commissioner is working to get those benefits, the workers now have to move on. But it's not easy; they were really holding on to the hope that they'd get their jobs back and the few we spoke to today were devastated:…

Andrea Polanco
"How you feel right now?"

Jimmy Valdarez, Former Employee - NTSL
"Well I can't explain, just a feeling that you can't explain. You have no job, you have family to feed, you have kids. I just hope the man is watching the news and it just can't be explain. So long I have been waiting to get a job now, we were sitting down for them to come back say that we got a job for you but nothing has happen like that so we just have to say that we hope they pay us for our benefits and so on because if we have to carry it to another level then we just have to carry it to another level."

Fidel Cocom, Former Employee - NTSL
"I have been working with national transport since 2006, that's 5 years ago."

Andrea Polanco
"So today they tell you no more job. How you feel?"

Fidel Cocom, Former Employee - NTSL
"Well I feel very sad having working with them a long time and it's hard for me to start a new job and to find it is the problem. I have to feed my family and I was waiting for this for 5-6 weeks for them to me that I am fired or I will continue this work. Today we get this message that we are fired and it's very hard for us."

Andrea Polanco
"So from here where will you go? What will you do? Do you have any kind of plans?"

Fidel Cocom, Former Employee - NTSL
"Right now my plan is to find a job and try to bring the money in."

Tyrone Gillett, Former Employee - NTSL
"The next step is try to look for a job now. I just hope one of the brothers would have sympathy for me give me a job with them. Who so ever."

Andrea Polanco
"So you have your family, I mean you have not been working for the past month. How will you manage in these coming days?"

Tyrone Gillett, Former Employee - NTSL
"I have to keep on trying until I find something or somebody call me or come up with something for me until."

Andrea Polanco
"So you are just hoping for this benefits, hope to get a job soon."

Tyrone Gillett, Former Employee - NTSL
"Only that I can do right now, I can't do nothing much better, just try until I find something."

Philip Jones says he wants to appeal to the receiver and the Belize Bank to deal fairly with the employees so that they get the benefits they are due. As noted in the interview, documentation remains a problem….

Channel 7


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#421761 - 11/12/11 02:18 PM Re: National Transport employees out of a job [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy

11 Months Later, National Transport Drivers Still Out In the Cold

Just about one year ago, in December of 2010, National Transport went into receivership leaving over 200 employees out in the cold. Fast forward eleven months and 60% of those employees say they still have not gotten paid.

Today they were back in court with the labor commissioner going to bat for them against the receiver which acts on behalf of the Belize Bank.

Phillip Jones, himself a former employee who hasn't gotten paid continues to be the lead advocate for the bus drivers:..

Phillip Jones
"For the last 11 months now, we have just been back- and- forth at court and nothing has happened as yet. You know next month is December again, it would be another sad Christmas, and we have workers that just need basic things to try get by, because we still have about sixty to fifty five percent of the workers, still unemployed. That's a record number, what I am here right now is just to appeal to the Belize Bank and Mr. Kevin Castillo, appointed by the Belize Bank to have some social compassion and to let's get some closer, lets pay the workers so that they can have something to start fresh with again."

"We have a lot of family members relying on their little severance and whatever they have to get. It will be appreciated especially in these times. It's very challenging as you know, but we are not here to fight with them or whatever, we just want them to be reasonable and understand that they had taken over a business that was running. What was going on behind the scene, that's none of our concern, but we are workers, we were providing a service and we loved what we did."

The case in the Magistrate's Court has been adjourned for November 21st.

Channel 7


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