Belize Times Does Not Print, Fires 5 of 7 Staffers - 08/11/12 12:41 PM
Four veteran staffers were fired today - after decades of working at the Party Organ - which is also the longest established newspaper in Belize.
They say they aren't so much angry that they got fired - they're angry that their severance and gratuity only amounts to small change - after a lifetime of service.
Today, still emotional after their last day of work - they came to us after five and vented with anger at the way they were sent off:..
Doreth Bevans, Terminated - 43 years at the Belize Times
"Today we got the same letter. Mr. Musa came and said that he wanted a meeting with us. He came and give me this letter; he says that one belongs to me, Fay and Rachel and when I opened the letter there was only $5,940.00. I told Mr. Musa that I didn't want that. I told him that after 43 years working at the Belize Times - what will I do with that kind of money. He told me that that's all he has because he didn't have any more money, he is broke."
"You feel as though you've been treated unfairly because you have given so much of your life and so much service to them?"
"That's right I feel like I should have gotten more. He mentioned about the $19,000.00 that I got about 4 years ago for a pension fund. Mr. Price told me about the pension fund, he (Musa) didn't know that I knew about the pension fund. When I went to Mr. Musa he told me that I will be in charge of sharing the money, when I went back he only share half of the money with us."
"Today when I ask him about the money, he says that is the severance pay with everything."
Fay Castillo, Terminated - 17 years at the Belize Times
"We believe that we are not being treated fairly. Just today Mr. Musa came and inform us that our services have been terminated with the Belize Times and gave us a check that we think is not what is due to us because I had already check with the labour department and the notice pay, the severance pay. Nothing I got was what I check with the labour department with, the figures are way off. It seems that in 2008 they gave us a portion of a money - a part of a pension fund that was left for us at the Belize Times by the late Hon. George Price and they deducted that out of our severance pay when we already check with the labour department and they told us that a pension fund has nothing to do with your severance pay and that is what we are upset about."
"The Belize Times continues to function as a newspaper?"
"I am not certain because they gave us no explanation as to why the termination of the staff. I know we did not come out today - we did that have an issue because the printing company that prints for us wanted a payment that they were unable to send or did not want to send and so we did not come out today."
"Can $5,000.00 compensate you for all the services that you have given to them?"
"No, they even mention that for the past 30 plus years they used to take care of me. They were not taking care of me, I was working for my money and he was kind of rude to me. He looked at me and told me that $5,000 can do something for me. $5,000.00 can't do anything for me. I have my children going to school and I have bills to pay. He says that he doesn't want to hear that. He just gave me the check and told me to take it if I want or take him to labour or do what I want with it."
"He got upset for no reason at all - I suppose to be the one to get upset because it is I that he is chancing. Why would he look at me and tell me that he did everything for me - that I work for them for 40 plus years. They didn't give me anything, no land, no nothing. The land that they gave me they took it back from me and gave it to somebody else. They didn't give me anything, I worked for my money. That's all I am saying that I worked for my money."
"All I was asking for was for them to give me the rest of my money on a monthly basis. He told us to take them to court and just do what we want to do."
"All I want to say is that PUP don't have any come back to come back if that is the way they are treating their own people because I have 2 children to feed and I am not happy with today. I explain to Mr. Musa that I need the job. I explain to Mr. Francis Fonseca that I need the job that's why I came to the media because I am not happy with today."
We note that Doreth Bevans is considered an institution at the Belize Times. She was there for 43 years - and is the daughter of Louise Bevans - namesake of the street and another party stalwart.
We tried reaching Said Musa at his office, but it was after closing time, and he was unavailable. We also tried reaching him by cell phone and thru text message, but got no response.
As was noted in the story, The Belize times did not come out today. There are a total of seven staffers, five, not four were fired today, and now only two remain.