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Joined: Oct 1999
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When the San Pedro Town Council changed in March following the municipal elections, several employees from the previous administration were terminated. Under the labor laws of Belize, those individuals ought to have been compensated as part of a severance package. That has not been the case, however, despite written correspondence between their attorney and Mayor Wally Nunez. Although it has been three months since a new local government took over at town hall, their attorney says there has been no word when-or if- those persons will be paid. News Five spoke with attorney Orson Elrington, who represents fifteen of those former workers.

Orson Elrington, Attorney-at-Law

"There was a change in administrations across this country in municipal governments. One of those municipal governments that had a change in administration was the San Pedro Town Council. Regrettably, with that change there was a bevy of dismissals and firings. Now obviously, my clients and maybe the public can guess what is the reason for those terminations, but that is not nearly why we're here today. We're here today because as you know and as most Belizeans know, whenever you terminate the service of an employee, they are due what we call a severance package. That severance package is based on how much you were being paid and your years of service, and obviously maybe the circumstances surrounding the termination of your employment. The San Pedro Town Council, when it terminated the services of at least fifteen employees whom we represent, there are others but we do not represent those others. We represent fifteen employees who were terminated by the San Pedro Town Council. Regrettably, when those persons were terminated, they were not given their proper severance package and that is why we are here today."

Long Term Employees among San Pedro Town Council Workers Waiting for Severance

According to Elrington, sufficient time has been afforded to the Town Council and its attorneys to respond to the query. Aside from a delay in response, Elrington says that at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, his clients entered into an agreement with the town council that they would accept a fifty percent pay cut until the financial situation at town hall would resume to normal.

Orson Elrington, Attorney-at-Law

"We would have written to the San Pedro Town Council in some circumstances more than a month ago and we had given them the normal seven-day notice or fourteen-day notice, I don't remember what it was, for them to respond to us and for them to make arrangements to make our clients whole. We have been speaking with counsel for a couple weeks now who has requested extensions in us taking the necessary legal action and we have obliged counsel for a couple weeks in extending the expiration of this notice. However, regrettably, it seems that that notice will come to an expiration, a final expiration, either tomorrow or the day after without the counsel having positively responded and therefore we will be forced to take legal action to recover what is due to our clients. Many of these persons are simply hardworking, ordinary Belizeans who simply want to do what is best for their community and most importantly to provide for their families. Therefore, it is most regrettable that these persons have been terminated. Let's use the example of one of the employees that I currently represent, they have been employed by the San Pedro Town Council for some twenty-one years, twenty-one years, and as a result of COVID, they went into an agreement with the town council that they would accept half of what is their pay. So imagine the injustice which this person suffers when you calculate their pay at half what it should be and you still refuse to actually reimburse them for the funds which they would have surrendered over that time period with the understanding that you would be reimbursed when things go back to normality or, in this case, if you choose to sever the employer/employee relationship then you need to reimburse the person."

News Five's efforts to reach Mayor Nunez for comment today were not successful, but we welcome his comments on the matter for tomorrow's newscast.

Channel 5

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Terminated employees to file lawsuit against SPTC; Mayor ready to go to court if needed

The current San Pedro Town administration could end up in court as 15 former employees contemplate a lawsuit against the administration. The former employees claim they did not receive their proper severance package when terminated after the new administration took office. They now seek legal advice to collect what they believe is due. However, the SPTC said they are ready to go to court because they have compensated them accordingly and do not intend to pay them any additional moneys.

Mayor Gualberto 'Wally' Nu�ez said the former workers were paid their severance and vacations based on what the Labour Department advised them to do. "This includes a formula calculating their severance and vacation pay. We checked with the Labour Department, and the way it was done is correct," said Nu�ez. He shared that the issue is that the former employees are claiming additional money. "They are saying to have been on a defer pay, on a reduced salary and not a cut salary. But other employees are saying they were on a cut salary, and it was a verbal agreement because they were on lockdown," said Nu�ez. The Mayor said there was no agreement that there were going to be any difference paid.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun


Mayor Wally Nunez Says Employees Should be Ashamed

According to Mayor Nunez, prior to the municipal elections in March, one employee increased his salary by one thousand, six hundred dollars monthly. This, while the island town, as the rest of the country, is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic and revenue collection is down.

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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San Pedro Town Council Agreeable

Recently, the termination of municipal government employees has been making the evening news, but it appears that one of those cases could end up in a pleasant outcome.

2 weeks ago, we told you about the dispute that was brewing at the San Pedro Town Council. For March March Municipal Elections, residents of that island town elected a PUP slate under the leadership of Mayor "Wally" Nunez.

They unseated a UDP Council, and during the transition tremors, a number of employees were terminated. They were supposed to be compensated in a severance package, but there was a dispute over the sum they got, and the calculated sum they think they deserve. 15 of those former employees retained attorney OJ Elrington to press the issue on their behalf.

He wrote them a lawyer letter and yesterday, the law firm that the new council retained gave him a formal response.

That letter says, quote, "We have advised our Client of its outstanding financial liability for the varying terminal benefits you have claimed on behalf of your clients. Our client is currently in the process of computing the full sums owing to your clients after which, it will proceed to make arrangements for payments to be effected." End quote.

We'll keep following up to find out if those former employees are paid those additional sums of money.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Terminated SPTC employees to receive additional compensation

After indicating that his administration would not pay additional money to former employees, Mayor Gualberto 'Wally' Nu�ez and his team have now agreed to compensate the terminated staff adequately. The additional funds are expected to be paid within the next month.

The attorney representing the 15 former employees, Orson 'OJ' Elrington, confirmed to The Sun that an agreement had been reached, and these workers are due to receive what they deserve. According to a letter from the law firm representing the SPTC, they had advised their client of the outstanding financial liability for the varying terminal benefits claimed on behalf of the dismissed workers. The process of computing the total sums owed to the complainants is in process. After that, arrangements would proceed for payments to be effected.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

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