It’s the year of a general election and while we anticipated the heavy campaign ads to begin within the first quarter of 2020, what we did not foresee was the depth of scandals and allegations rocking the United Democratic Party and the Barrow administration. Ordinarily, the unions are on the sidelines looking and keeping quiet. Tonight, however, we can tell you that the silence is over. The unions are joining hands and are looking to hold a massive demonstration on Thursday. We’ll get into the details of that shortly. First, we’ll tell you of the ultimatum and the demands that the unions are making to the government. The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) which is the mother of all unions, hosted a press conference today and presented six actions that the unions want to see happen before an election is called. The first is the enacting of campaign legislation while the others surround anti-corruption laws and the Senate Inquiry Report. As we noted, the unions want these done before an election is called. Marvin Mora is the President of the NTUCB.
Marvin Mora, President, National Trade Union Congress of Belize: “First, no elections until the implementation of all campaign finance laws that mandate a) all existing and aspiring politicians to disclose the source of their campaign finance exceeding $1,000 Belize. B) To establish limits on campaign contributions from individual donors and organizations (one time deposits as well as annual cumulative contributions i.e $4,000BZ). C) Politicians or political parties disclose an official donors list during campaign periods.
Two, no elections until the reconvening of meetings for the UNCAC steering committee, adoption of recommendations from executive summary and begin procedures for second phase of the UNCAC process.
Three, no elections until the Senate report on the Immigration Department is tabled and for police investigations and convictions where illegal actions are reported.
Four, No elections until the restructuring of the Integrity Commission and the Public Accounts Commission for reduced government influence in roles and responsibilities due to political appointees and for more efficient oversight on government spending.
Five, no elections until the implementation of sanctions or penalties for individuals found liable and or who contravene, violated or did not comply with the provisions of the Finance and Audit Report.
Finally six, no elections until the start of an independent investigation into alleged wrongdoing by former Minister of National Security Honorable John Saldivar and all other named public officials, public servants and individuals.”
According to Mora, the NTUCB has most of the other unions on board. Mora says that if these demands are not met and the election is called then the unions will keep their options open and that a full strike would be a possibility. A full strike could mean the shut down of multiple services in the country including schools, utility providers among others. He added that even if another party wins the election, they will continue clamoring for these demands.
Marvin Mora, President, National Trade Union Congress of Belize: “The initial feedback that we are getting is that almost all unions if not all of them have initially indicated that they are more than willing to send as many members as they can. We also want to highlight the fact the this is just the beginning. If it is that we are going to be met with resistance in our list of demands obviously our strategic plan will have to kick in and there is more to come. What we do expect is that they do the right thing and they listen to the union and they try to do as much as they can. However that doesn’t mean in any way shape or form that even with all of these in place that the union will be satisfied -none at all. The UNCAC is a long process and these are just the beginning of some of the things that they have recommended should already be in place, so there is no way that just on the short term the NTUCB will be satisfied with not only this current administration or any other administration because obviously nobody knows exactly how elections will play out. So whether it is this administration or the next administration our resolution is to keep pushing forward until all of the recommendations coming from UNCAC are implemented, are in place and are acted upon.”
Mora added that the Government has ample time to act as legally, they have until February 2021 for an election to be held.