Up to this morning public officers had six days to either get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. By this afternoon, however, the Ministry of Public Service and the Public Service Union came together and agreed to delay the vaccine mandate and that a deeper look be taken into the spread and numbers of Covid-19. PSU President, Dean Flowers told Love News this evening that the meeting with Minister Henry Charles Usher was crucial as many public officers were placed with their backs against the wall.
Dean Flower, President, PSU: “I don’t see it as a victory for PSU I see it as a victory for democracy. I see it as a victory for public officers. I see it as a victory for social dialogue and inclusion and so it’s not a victory for the PSU but a victory for Belizeans that if we can speak to each other and respect each other’s opinions, each other’s perspective and if we can appreciate what the other person is saying we can all come out winning.”
Reporter: Mr.Flowers we understand that the mandate has been pushed back, is there any indication how far back it has been pushed ?
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “I think that will be dependent on how responsible we are as Belizeans and as public officers. At the current moment we were able to agree that there is absolutely no life and death urgency before us that would require us to proceed with the mandate. However guided by data we have agreed that guided by data, guided on what the numbers are saying as it relates to the infection rate within the public service and of course we’ll also have to look at the infection within the wider community and so how far back has it been pushed back it all depends on the behavior of Belizeans and it included in that behavior of course will be the issue of vaccination. If more people get vaccine then again guided by the science as we stated in the release it means that our chances increase in terms of protection and so how far back we don’t know. Our behavior and the rate of infection and the mortality rate will also determine when we revisit another conversation that involves a mandatory vaccination.”
Reporter: So at this point it seems that the mandate is inevitable so is it your hope that government might say you know what let us scrap this mandate on a whole ?
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “I don’t know if I would agree for the government to take such a position. The government like the union has a responsibility to look after the best interest of its constituents and part of that of course is looking at the situation within the different communities and within the country on a whole and so there may come a time if it is that this covid-19 virus and the different variants if they just keep on propagating and it gets worse we might not have a choice. However if it gets that bad I don’t think that there will need to be a mandate I think Belizeans and public officers who we represent will do the right thing which will be to get their vaccines.”
Another issue that came up was the subject of a Christmas bonus that was circulating on several social media posts in recent days. The story is that police officers would receive sixty-four dollars and public officers would be getting one hundred dollars. It turns out, however, that is fake news. We checked with Government representative and President Dean Flowers who both seemed at a loss as to where that information came from.
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “I can say with all honesty that the government has not communicated with the Public Service Union on any bonus. Whether it’s a ham, whether it’s a turkey, whether it’s a hundred dollars, whether it’s sixty four dollars there has been absolutely no communication on any bonus to public officers and so what you see out there on social media and in other news outlets in my humble view are: one, rumors and two, mischief for the most part because until such time that the government informs us that they are issuing a bonus to public officers I wouldn’t be able to say that anything is forthcoming to public officers. I can only comment on the fact that in my conversation with the Senator of the NTUCB there was in fact a note I believe in the Senate paper which said that there was an allocation for recognition to public officers. What is that recognition I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s a plaque, I don’t know if it’s a hundred dollars, I don’t know if it’s three hundred dollars, I don’t know if it’s sixty four dollars. I don’t know if it’s a turkey, half a turkey, a ham or half a ham as I see circulating on social media so I’m unable to confirm or deny that anything is coming to public officers for this Christmas.”
Again, to clarify, public officers are not being exempted from getting vaccinated, but rather the two parties have agreed to look at the data and science behind the vaccine. If there comes a time, however, where the vaccine is deemed absolutely necessary the PSU will work in tandem with the government to push for public officers to get vaccinated.