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Fifty Workers of the Belize City Council Facing Retirement

Fifty workers of the Belize City Council will be out of a job soon as they are being released. Social media reports say that the men and women are being fired, but Mayor Bernard Wagner says it’s not termination but rather overdue retirement as some of the workers are close to seventy years old.

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “Termination no but retirement yes there is the situation that has built up over successive terms and from way back and in respect to employees that are over the retirement age. If you check the City Council Act the act really gives the provision that you be retired at the age of 55. That has not been in compliance for some time now. We have a situation where we have over fifty employees who have reached the retirement age and so we are in discussion with the union because some of those members are union members of course and so we have to consult and approach the union on how we treat this matter but the fact of the matter that there are over fifty employees who have essentially reached that retirement age range, some of them are over sixty, sixty five, sixty seven, some even up to seventy plus and I just believe that past administrations have for political expediency have never dealt with it but we have reached a point where it continues to cost the employees – if we don’t address it now by the end of 2021 that number of employees will go to approximately seventy employees with accruing gratuity payments estimated at half a million and if we don’t address it now we look at it in 2024 that number should increase to a hundred employees. And with an estimated gratuity liability of over $1.4 million dollars.”

And while the decision has been made to retired those whose time has come, Belize City Mayor Wagner says it will be done in a phased approach.

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “It will not be a one off type exercise. We are trying to do it in a phase approach where the first phase will impact twenty one employees whom are over the age of sixty years so we do it in phases where out of that fifty twenty one employees that are over sixty will be retired and then beginning in August the next twenty two employees that are between the ages of fifty seven to fifty nine years those will be retired as well and the final phase commences in September which will impact approximately ten employees that are between the ages of fifty five to fifty seven. Thereafter we hope that we will continue to address retirement on an annual basis. Once you reach your retirement age you are retired because having this system reach to where it is today it does not in no way help the financial position of any council.”

Reporter: So no definitive solution or decision on whether there will be new hirings ?

Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City:Not at this point. We are looking from a council standpoint that our revenues continue to underperform due to the COVID19 pandemic. Like I told you in our last interview property taxes is just not priority on residents list and so yourself as an entity have to recognize that and have to be able to operate within those confines that you find yourself becoming more efficient. Being less wasteful, looking at how we could begin to curb our operational expenses, our day to day operational expenses. The fact of the matter is that many municipalities have been facing economic hardships from March of last year 2020, that narrative has been spoken about for some time now that many of the city councils all across the country have been hemorrhaging silently and with no clear direction going forward.”