Tonight, there is no progress to report on the impasse between the Government of Belize and the Public Service Union (PSU). When we left you on Friday, we told you of the ultimatum the government gave the PSU and the union’s rejection of an increment freeze for this fiscal year. We also told you of the Prime Minister’s response in saying that the union’s position is unacceptable. While we cannot report any solution to the impasse, we can tell you that the two bodies have agreed to a virtual meeting for Wednesday morning. Love News spoke to the Vice President of the Public Service Union, Dean Flowers, who explained that the PSU and Belize National Teacher’s Union are ready to sit and come to an amicable solution.
Dean Flowers, Public Relations Committee Chairman, Public Service Union: “We have agreed on general talking points but there has not been any final agreement as to a specific position but in general I can safely say that both unions would be prepared to entertain and have a discussion surrounding a deferment of increments. I think as I’ve stated before the Prime Minister in his wisdom and in his authority as Prime Minister has advised that if we do not concede to his request he will exercise his authority and the powers vested in him to go to the Governor General and so as I stated last week he’s at liberty to do that if that is how he feels he needs to act to accomplish what he wishes to accomplish. The reality is that we don’t think that that is the manner or we wouldn’t want to see that the Prime Minister act in that manner I think that it wouldn’t serve to harbor good industrial relations and so we’re hoping that coming out of the meeting on Wednesday he would not have to go down that road.”
While the BNTU seems to be in full solidarity of the PSU despite their presentation a few weeks ago during a Senate meeting, the umbrella union, National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) says there is limited dialogue occurring considering the gravity of the Government’s request. In other words, they have no position to present just yet.
Marvin Mora, President, National Trade Union Congress of Belize: “We are concerned that there has been limited discussion in terms of the people who are going to be affected and the Government of Belize officials that will make the decision especially in the finance department;very concerned about that. We have always held on to that cooler heads need to prevail especially in regard to this situation. We are awaiting our brothers and sisters from all the three unions because this isn’t something that only affects members of the Public Service Union in isolation,that is not the case, this is a situation that will cut across the board so for us at the NTUCB we are in the view that it is preferable that they work it out, they formulate their position and that they can sit down with the Government of Belize and try to make some contributions to whatever it is that is coming to the table as proposed. If that does not work out and we believe when we see their position because obviously they will have to share that with us either through their delegates or officially, then the NTUCB will be in a better position to decide. For now we understand the situation that’s one thing in fact when we had our last general council meeting that was the prevalent theme that all the union delegates that were at the meeting and even prior to that at our executive committee all of the understanding that the times are difficult, that decisions are difficult but one thing is very clear to us this issue here is not going to be permanent. Whatever we are going through as a country it really and truly just something that would be midterm, short term. Yes there will be some long term effect but it is not as if we will have COVID-19 forever.”
The meeting will commence on Wednesday at 10 AM and the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, and the Financial Secretary Joseph Waight will be in attendance. ///