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PSU Lays Out Plan for Industrial Action

The Public Service Union (PSU) is hopeful that the Government of Belize will come back to the table to negotiate further.  With the 21-days notice served to the Labor Commissioner yesterday, the countdown has begun that could possibly lead to a full strike action.  Love News spoke with the First Vice President of the Public Service Union (PSU) Dean Flowers who explained the 21-day process.



Vice President Flowers explained that the notice given to government provides a window for the parties to settle the impasse amicably. 

Dean Flowers, First Vice President, Public Service Union: “The reason why we served the twenty one days notice in addition to declaring a trade dispute is because there are a number of essential services that are listed within the Essential Services Act and so as the responsible union we wouldn’t want to do anything outside the provisions of the law and as such we essentially gave the government notice, or the Minister of Labor notice that this impasse, this trade dispute is not resolved within twenty one days then it can and will result in strike action by the public service union. The act provides for a response and actions by the Minister of Labor to do his utmost best in resolving the dispute at hand and it is expected that that be resolved or some settlement or agreement to set it aside or to resolve it completely is achieved within twenty one days and so we are expecting a response from the government via the Minister of Labor more specifically via the Labor Commissioner and I’m pretty quite sure that perhaps before the day is out or before the week is out we will receive such a response because unlike the failure on the part of the Ministry of Labor to establish and convene meetings of the Labor Dispute Tribunal which is affecting many workers across this country I don’t think that with this case they have the luxury of not prioritizing a response to this union the Public Service Union so that we can seek a way forward in addressing this impasse.”

So, what does this mean for public officers?  Flowers says that the work to rule campaign allows the public officers to limit the services rendered within the government service.

Dean Flowers, First Vice President, Public Service Union: For public officers and more specifically for those who are members of the union it means the implementation of a plan of action that will lead towards the expiration of twenty one days and as part of that today we initiated our work to rule campaign which pretty much limits us to our terms and conditions as stipulated in our job descriptions. And so we have called public officers to do no more or no less than what is required of them as per their job descriptions and that could also mean perhaps refusal to work over time, the regulations are clear that a head of department or a chief executive officer may ask public officers to work over time from time to time and that should be temporary that cannot be and should not be permanent at any given time and we know that several of our public officers within the health sector and within other ministries perhaps police I’m not too quite familiar with the hours there, the transport people, perhaps the forestry people, the civil aviation people we know they work a lot of OT hours and now in accordance with the regulations it is up to them to not be irresponsible in causing the injury or death of anybody but depending on which ministry you work in you would now have the right to resist working continuously over time. You could now look at the regulation and say in accordance with the regulation these are the hours that I am required to work , 39.5 , or 45 if I’m a field officer and from time to time I will engage in OT as requested but for now in solidarity with my union and in accordance with the law I will be working to rule.” 

We have lots more to share with you in tomorrow’s newscast including a look at the final count on the polls from the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU).