Business process outsourcing is one of Belize’s fastest growing industries. Thousands of Belizeans have gained jobs from the outsourcing of customer service and other chores of business, primarily from the United States. But tonight, a new BPO abruptly closed its doors and fired thirty employees. Accutel BPO was established in May and hired its first workers in September to act as agents to respond to campaign contracts obtained from U.S. companies. But the main owner of the company, Emory Castillo from Belmopan, has abruptly shut down the outfit without paying his employees. The company’s Information Technology Manager says that Castillo withheld Social Security payments on their behalf despite deducting it from their pay. And he should know better, considering that he works at the SSB office in Belmopan. Two employees told us off camera what happened.
Voice of: Female Accutel Worker
“The issue is that our boss, Mister Emory Castillo, made an arrangement with us. He opened a business, we were hired on the fifth of September and on the twenty-seventh of October, he told us that we were not supposed to come in at work; we were on standby basically. We waited, time passed and he told us no work until further notice. Then on the thirty-first we were supposed to be paid, but he made a promise with us saying that he can’t pay us until the third, the latest. So we told him okay, no problem. On the fourth, he came to us telling us that we had to wait until Friday; he didn’t have the money, he had to sell his house and lot. So when he finally paid us we got our two weeks pay and he told us that the business was closed down. We didn’t get any kind of letter to tell us that we were terminated. We went to Labour (Department) trying to figure it out, but basically he owes us four week pay at this time and we want to know how we can get our money from him.”
Voice of : Male Accutel Worker
“So the staff went to look into social security and labour to find out what the situation was. He was taking social security deductions from us. When we went to social security, we found out that there was no social security being paid. Yes, and we have a staff that is on maternity leave and the first case came up when she came and she went to social security to make a claim for maternity and she couldn’t get anything because there was nothing registered. And that’s when everything spiraled out of control so he said to us and we have it on recording because we recorded what he said in the meeting. And he said yes, he took the social security payments from us but he is going to pay it, but on the fifteen and he said I, Emory Castillo will take responsibility for it.”