GOB and the JUNT to meet on February 15
In six days, the Joint Unions will be meeting with the Government’s Negotiating Team to chart a way forward as it relates to the restoration of increments for public officers and teachers. The JUNT, comprised of the Belize National Teachers Union, the Public Service Union, and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM), are demanding that their increments, which have now been frozen for three years, be restored in full on April 1. The JUNT is expecting the government to take their request into account and include the increase in this year’s fiscal budget. Today, Minster Fonseca, a member of GOB’s negotiating team, shared his views on the unions’ demands.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “I think again we have a meeting, the government’s negotiating team has scheduled a meeting with the JUNT for I believe it’s the 15th of February that’s next week so I don’t want to get ahead of that meeting. We’re going into that meeting with an open mind. We’re going to have as we always do a respectful discussion with them. We will hear from them exactly what their issues are the outstanding issues are, we will dialogue with them, we will make note of those issues and as we always do we have to take those issues back to Cabinet for further discussion and decisions that have to be made. We wanted to do it at the end of last year. I mean we’ve had several meetings with them, we had several meetings with them last year, we wanted to have an additional meeting with them at the end of the year but we did have a meeting the Prime Minister, myself, the Deputy Prime Minister, we did have a meeting with them in December but the joint negotiating team you know we couldn’t have a meeting with them at the end of the year because of other commitments the BNTU has and other unions had but as I said we’re having that meeting next week.”
Fonseca added that while the GOB does not agree with all of the JUNT’s demands, they are going into the meeting with open minds in hopes of striking an amicable solution.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “Listen the unions have every right to advocate for their membership and to advocate for better terms and conditions for their members that’s the purpose and objective of a union. So we have no quarrel with that. But I want to encourage them let’s try to have as we have tried to do. Let’s try to have a respectful dialogue, a respectful discussion grounded in facts. So you know I am very hopeful about that because that has been the past experience over the past two years. We’ve always been able to have a respectful discussion and come out of it with a better understanding of where we need to go and what we need to get done.”