Vice President of the Public Service Union (PSU), Dean Flowers says he is ready to abandon the fight against the ten percent salary cut and the increment freeze. In an interview with Love News, Flowers says it is not about giving up but it is about looking at the bigger picture. In his words, he says, “we have ridden the horse for as long as possible.” End of quote.
Dean Flowers, First Vice President, PSU: “I would wish that all my energy and all my focus could now be switched to engaging with the other social partners, the BBB, the BCCI, the Network of NGOs that is where I think all our energy needs to be diverted to get them on board with ensuring that we all get the good governance and public sector reform that we all want to ensure that Belize stands on good footing where recovery is concerned. So in regards to the ten percent increment freeze it is up to the government to come up with a creative suggestion to the union for us to move beyond that because I think that -and I will speak for myself here and not necessarily on behalf of the Public Service Union but as a public officer I think that we have ridden the horse for too long where that matter is concerned. We stand on grounds of principles in terms of what brought us here as to why this cut is necessary and we will never move from off those grounds because those are grounds of principle. It is because of government’s mismanagement that we’re being asked to make this sacrifice. Whether or not we give up ten percent or twenty percent it will not make the lives of the Belizean populace better. What will make the lives of the Belizean populace better is better governance.”
It is important to note at this point that Flowers is not speaking on behalf of the PSU, at least not tonight. He did say, however, that indications are that the vast majority of government workers may very well be able to survive the salary cut. Here is how he explained that point.
Dean Flowers, First Vice President, PSU: “From a personal perspective I would like to move away from the conversation surrounding the ten and freeze but unfortunately that may not be the sentiment of every public officer or the teachers. The response from the vast majority of the six thousand plus public officers seems to be that unlike the teachers the vast majority of public officers are able to stomach this ten. And I don’t say that from a position of opinion, I say that from a position of showing me the numbers and I would tell you who can and who cannot afford the ten. We’ve seen public officers taking to the streets on day after day to say “I want good governance and I want some compensation for my ten.” but we’ve seen the vast majority of public officers, I would say five thousand plus who in effect their silence and their not showing up to make a stand with the union is saying we can make that adjustment when the ten is taken away and so perhaps it is time for the government to proceed as they proposed in the budget. About a thousand or so public officers are saying we’re not there yet. As I sit here today I can safely say that I admire the determination and the vigor of the teachers because they fully understand the impact that that will have on them and their ability to assist the students that are in their care. With all due respect and with maximum respect to those public officer who have stood beside the teachers, who have stood beside the leaders of the Public Service Union over the last two weeks – I know we’ve been on strike for six days thus far but we’ve been actively engaged for the last two weeks and more so engaged in industrial actions over the last thirty days or so.”
And while Flowers says he is prepared to shift his fighting energies to public service reform, he did point out that all is not lost as the joint unions have made some progress in getting the wheels turning towards good governance.
Reporter: While you couldn’t win the ten percent argument are winning the good governance argument, would you not agree with that?
Dean Flowers, First Vice President, PSU: “I would hundred and fifty percent agree with that that we have in fact made our mark, we have in fact made inroads we have in fact made progress. We have before us two pieces of legislation that would change the way we do business in this country forever. That will empower public officers to call out freely without fear, corrupt acts within the public service. That will lead to a better public sector management so yes we have made progress and we have made our impact and for that reason I am saying that I would like to go further and now continue the push for those reforms to be enacted and enforced and implemented and to ensure that the institutions entrusted with enforcing those legislations are empowered, equipped, staffed, empowered, properly financed. I would like to transfer all this energy that I’m dedicating to the ten percent and to the increment freeze I’d like to transform that over now to public sector reform so that public servants can be educated, can be indoctrinated on their rights.”
Flowers also responded to the bondholder’s comment last Friday saying that, unlike the popular consensus, the unions are very much aware of the country’s fiscal challenges.