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Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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For the past few days, we've been hearing whisperings of a group of employees who work for Bowen & Bowen, and who have been unsatisfied with a change in their terms of employment.

The problem they're having is that the administrations wants them to sign on to new contracts that they say are unfair to them. It involves their eligibility for holiday pay, commission earned when they sell Coca Cola Products, and the benefits that they currently enjoy.

A group of these workers are saying that if they don't sign, their jobs are on the line. Well, it seems that a small group didn't go into work today, and they went to a labor union to see what protection they can get because they refuse to sign the new contract.

Today, a representative of that group call 7News out to speak with them off camera, and for fear of victimization, he asked us to help protect his identity. With that in mind, we bring you his comments, with the audio distorted to conceal his identity. Here's what he told us:

Voice of: Bowen & Bowen Employee
"All of these documents that they use, everything they just put it to us. How can they decided what they want to do, this is something that we all as employees - we push for the company, we try to make things run the way they want it to run but then we don't accept for them to come and make changes and then push a paper in front of us and say sign this because if we don't sign we will get fired."

Reporter "Any consultation with you guys?"

Voice of: Bowen & Bowen Employee
"No kind of consultation to us stating that what they are changing and this is what is happening, what our opinions are or are we agree on this - nothing like that. Everything is just written down, signed and just present this in front of us with threats that if we don't sign the papers, we could get fired."

"When is the deadline that you guys have to sign?"

Voice of: Bowen & Bowen Employee
"The deadline for signing is supposed to be today and we all just regroup and come to an agreement that we are not signing any papers right now. If I sell 250 cases for the day, I can look at $50 on top on my regular day pay. Now I have to deliver 744 cases, so I could receive that same $50 on top of my regular pay. So you have to work like 3 times harder than how we use to work to make that money. Then they look at us and they tell us that we are supervisors, if we are supervisors then we should be getting supervisors' allowances."

"We are not afraid of that. We are willing to stand up for our rights and we are willing to stand up and let others out there understand what is taking place at Bowen and Bowen because people look at it like a bunch of roses, but it's not. There many things that we are facing at Bowen and Bowen that people out there just look and say that we are working for a great company - people don't understand the issues that we have to deal with in this place. It's like they have us in a surrounding that we just can't say what we want on the compound because you have to be scared that somebody will take that in the office and like try to get rid of you or something."

Bowen and Bowen's public relations officer told us this evening that they are dumbfounded and disheartened at the claims of these employees. She told us that their prized employees were given an opportunity to become supervisors with compensation and she is appalled that they would take this step to abandon their costumers and defame the company that has provided for them. She says the company is undergoing restructuring and it offers employees promotions, and better commissions with no vacation changes. She says they have the choice to do their job or resign if they don't want to go along with the new restructuring. She says their grievances have not been communicated to the company - and she learnt of them through the media.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Employees discontent with new terms of employment and salaries with Bowen

Christelle Wilson

Wilson says that the restructuring of the company was necessary to provide quality service to customers.

Christelle Wilson, Internal Legal Counsel & PR Officer, Bowen & Bowen

"We have been working for a while now on a restructuring program for our presale off-the-products at Bowen and Bowen. We have customers that need to get our products, get it quickly so that they can resell to their consumers. So what the team did, we got together several years ago and we decided how can we be a better-efficient company and serve our customer base. The solution was that we have presale salesmen go out, take the orders from our customers and then we have the delivery men and their assistants who would go out and deliver these products and everything will be done in a timely manner, efficiently and everybody will be satisfied. So what happened was that, as I mentioned, two years ago, this was thrown around at our employees. We started to train with our deliverymen, with their assistants; with everybody who would play a key role in this presale movement and we have been in discussion with these employees in question and employees on a whole. About two months now we've been training them and everything seemed to be going smoothly as far as Bowen and Bowen is concerned and we did conduct some employee evaluation to determine who will be our presales men, who will be our deliverymen, who will be assistants."

Duane Moody

"There must be setbacks caused by the actions of these men. Could you tell us about that? Is there any financial implication to this? Human resources, things like that?"

Christelle Wilson

"I'm glad you asked that Duane because we did incur a great loss due to the fact that these gentlemen did not come to work. Remember this is a new system where we have our presales men go out and then our deliverymen and assistants take out the goods. So what we had had to happen yesterday was that men who should have been out pre-selling the goods had to then turn around and had to deliver. So we lost a day of getting sales. We also did not get to finish all the deliveries we had because we had new guys, who are not familiar with the routes, trying to get our goods to our customers because at the end of the day, we still have our customers to satisfy."

Wilson told News Five that all benefits as prescribed by the law will be paid to the terminated employees.

13 Bowen & Bowen employees terminated

Thirteen employees of Bowen and Bowen Limited have been terminated. That decision was taken by the management of the company after the group of employees comprising of drivers and their assistant stayed off work for two days to signal their discontent with new terms of employment and salaries with the company. The group claimed that their eligibility for holiday pay, commission and benefits would change so they refused to sign the new contract. Well late this evening, the company decided to send them home. But before that decision, News Five had a one-on-one with Bowen's Internal Legal Counsel and PR Officer, Christelle Wilson. Wilson says the new terms of employment would have benefited Belize City employees as it has in San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Wilson says they were taken aback because the employees did not address their grievances with the company before abandoning their posts.

Christelle Wilson, Internal Legal Counsel & PR Officer, Bowen & Bowen

"We have a couple employees who we have learnt through the media-because they have not up to date come to put forward any complaint to Bowen and Bowen-who are saying that they are unhappy with the change in our restructuring and they are unhappy with the changes in their wages. Let me explain the changes in wages and maybe you can try to help me because for the life of me, I am still trying to understand. We had our delivery men who use to be earning a flat basic salary and they will be making overtime. Under this new structure, we now want to give these employees a feeling of empowerment. We want to incentivize them to go out there and ensure that after the presales men have gone out and they have garnered the sales that they complete the sales by delivering the goods. So we changed their status quo; we made them supervisors. To supervise their team and make sure that everybody is on board and working together. So what we have now is the deliveryman becoming a supervisor; he won't be making overtime anymore because as you know that's basic knowledge�.when you become a supervisor, you no longer make OT; you get your basic flat salary. But we here at Bowen and Bowen Limited took into consideration that they use to make OT. We added that to their basic salary and we gave them a twenty-seven percent increase in what their salary would have been. You get that every month. We still allowed them to make commission as a way to encourage them to go out and complete the sales. So now they have an opportunity to take home even more money than they use to do before this program came into effect."

Duane Moody

"Is it possible that these persons were not sensitized enough to understand what the change would have entailed and the benefits they would have gotten from this change? Is it possible that they just neva understand what unu mi di do?"

Christelle Wilson

"Duane that is a valid question and I must say that after the way they have been behaving in the media, you would want to think soh nuh chu? But no, that is not the case. We have been undergoing training with these guys for months and months. We have been telling them this is how we approach customers, this is what you're going to do; this team is going to go out on presale. And even though we are hearing about the disgruntlement now, none of them have really voiced any strong opinions that they were not onboard; that they would not want to be on this new regiment; that they would not want to work at Bowen and Bowen anymore�none of this came out. So we were very amazed and shock to hear yesterday that they are acting as though this is the first time they are hearing about this new pre-selling arrangement that we are going to have here at Bowen and Bowen."

Channel 5

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