The sale of the Belize Sugar Industries is inching toward fruition. Negotiations for American Sugar Refining to purchase controlling shares of B.S.I. continued today at Tower Hill Factory where executives of the Belize Workers Union met with the management of B.S.I. to agree on the terms under which the union will relinquish its majority stake in the company. While the outcome of today’s meeting was mutually beneficial, the B.W.U. was not able to ratify a Memorandum of Understanding since, according to B.S.I.’s Managing Director Joey Montalvo, there is insufficient time to undertake legal proceedings prior to the closing of the deal. One of the kinks that have now been cleared is that all employees have been guaranteed their jobs when A.S.R. takes over the company. Additionally, dividends in the amount of five point two million dollars will be paid out to workers over a three-year period.
Via Phone: Ian Leiva, Chairman, Belize Workers Union
“At nine-thirty we had a meeting with B.S.I. management and at this meeting we discussed the issues which we had from the proposals of American Sugar Refinery. The issues we had was that we wanted, they mentioned in their proposals is that they will honor our collective bargaining agreement, all side agreements B.S.I. has with the Belize Workers Union. Also we have our job security. They have guaranteed employment. There will be no redundancy and they gave us a payment plan on how they plan to pay the outstanding dividends owed to the workers which is about five point two million dollars. They mentioned that they wanted to pay two weeks after they signed fifty percent [and] on the first anniversary they will pay the thirty percent and on the second anniversary they will pay the twenty percent. What we wanted from B.S.I. was for this to be signed in a Memorandum of Understanding, an M.O.U., we want it in black and white but what we discussed this morning is that Mr. Montalvo explained to us that for a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed it is only going to prolong the process and we only have approximately about one month left, one month left to go through with this negotiation. They plan to want to sign by the thirtieth of June, but what he can do for us is give us a copy of that proposal which was presented to the Government of Belize and also to the Cane Farmers Association and the B.E.H., the board of B.E.H. which is the B.S.I. Employees Holdings Ltd. This proposal was presented to the Government of Belize so if they were to breach that proposal I would say then we can still have them taken to court that they are not doing what they agreed firstly on the proposal.”