NEAB is not the only entity calling for a referendum. They are supported by the Opposition, United Democratic Party and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB). It is the umbrella union representing thirteen unions. In an April 5 press release, the NTUCB called on the government to (quote) “immediately stop the commencement of the proposed cannabis legislation. We hereby demand for the Government of Belize to conduct countrywide consultations to sensitize and listen to positions of Stakeholders, Social Partners, and the wider public. The NTUCB is also calling upon the Government of Belize to conduct a Referendum.” (end of quote). NTUCB represents very vocal unions like the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the Public Service Union (PSU) and two days after the NTUCB’s press release, the media was informed that the PSU had not taken a position on the referendum. So we asked NTUCB President Luis Luke Martinez how is it that the umbrella union arrived at its position.
Reporter: How many unions is the NTUCB made of?
Luis Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “The NTUCB has 13 unions, Hipolito. I have shared. I could share with you how the NTUCB makes its decision. That’s not a secret, if that’s what you’re asking for. I don’t know where you’re going with your question but any thinking person would agree that there’s need for proper consultation on this bill and I’m not speaking from an ethical perspective. In fact, even in our ethical or moral, even in our press release, we’re not coming from that direction. In fact we’ve made final, um, we’ve made some, I’m not going to say final but we’ve made some contributions to the bill and we submitted that on Monday to the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Leader of Government Business and to the minister responsible for that ministry, no? Home Affairs and New Growth industries. So we’ve made that submission to those bodies so, how National Trade Union Congress makes its decision is neither here nor there, Hipolito. If we were asking for something irrational then anybody could have tried to pull that card.”
Reporter: Your April 5th press release is not only asking for countrywide consultations to be conducted. The NTUCB is calling upon the Government to immediately stop the commencement of the proposed cannabis legislation. My question to you, out of those 13 members, how many of them supported this press release and this NTUCB position?
Luis Luke Martinez, President, NTUCB: “I don’t know how to answer you, Hipolito. The National Trade Union Congress is made up of 13 unions. 12 of these unions have voting rights. Right? When we make our decisions, we have several platforms. We have our WhatsApp platform, our Facebook platform, and, of course, our email platform, and face to face meetings. We’ve, well since there’s been some opening, we’ve transitioned a bit into hybrid, into some hybrid meetings. So we’ve been discussing this bill Hipolito. This bill has been around the table for NTUCB since October and we have a committee that is set up to advise our senator and that is where most of our positions come from, of course. Then those positions are then shared with our general council explaining that this is, you have NTUCB’s position and then you’d forward it to its members to give their comments or emendations. So we went through that process.”