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The NTUCB Says it is Disappointed over GOB’s New SI

The National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) says it is disappointed and concerned that the government has failed to consult with the labor sector, specifically on the government’s intention to roll out its vaccine/test policy across the public sector on October 1. The NTUCB says this policy had no input from any labor representative. Via zoom, NTUCB President, Luis Martinez told Love News that it is disheartening that GOB does not believe it could benefit from workers’ input.

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: There are numerous SIs that have been passed which affects the working class. It affects the workers and all of this is happening without any input from any of the labour representatives and that needs to be addressed. We fully recognize that the government of Belize has a duty to develop reasonable measures to protect lives. We agree with that but the problem though, I think we used disheartened in our press release, that the government does not believe that they could benefit from labour inputs even though we have the healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, epidemiologists,  you name it in the health sector are we have it. We always say that the National Trade Union Congress is a strong organization, a diverse organization and we don’t just say that because we want to say that, we say that because we know what we have. We’re not  guessing it and so it hurts us to know that we are not being consulted. In fact let me take that back it doesn’t hurt us it concerns us very much and it needs to be addressed.

Reporter: Do you believe it’s an oversight or deliberate ?

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB:I’ll say it again. I’m not concerned about deliberate, not concerned about oversight. We know that are people deserve to be represented we know that we have the right and the strength to demand our position and so we are going to do so.”

Reporter: Is it the NTUCBs position that if consultations were had and representatives from the labor sectors be part of that consultations there would be a significant change or approach on how government is dealing with this ? 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: Absolutely. If I want your support I have to reach out to you.  I can’t expect to get your support and I don’t reach out to you.”

The NTUCB is urging the government to implement two corrective actions. One of those actions is to postpone the October 1 rollout of the SI to allow for proper consultation. The NTUCB is also asking that GOB meet with the labor force at the earliest possible convenience. President Martinez says the NTUCB is not picking a fight with the Briceno Administration but rather fighting for due process.

Reporter: Ok so what if I tell you that the NTUCB  is in fringing on the government’s responsibility to govern? You want to govern.

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB:No we’re not. That’s not a fair statement. We have have said time and time again that  we want to galvanize our relationship with the government of Belize. We recognize that the government has a duty to develop reasonable measures to protect public health -”

Reporter: But you don’t believe that the regulations in this new SI are reasonable to protect public health. 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: You’re missing the point and I don’t know if you’re asking it maybe to assist those who may want to believe so. The point here is that all of us are trying to protect public health. “

Reporter: The point of that question was if you have read the SI and is there something there that you support our don’t fully support? 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: I can’t answer that question Hipolito. Our members agreed that we needed to have stated certain things and we have done so I think very clearly in our press release and without dodging any balls.”

Reporter: Okay so let me be the devil’s advocate here and say you are concerned because public officers are concerned because those who have not been vaccinated won’t be able to go to work and will be day off and they will be disciplined affording to their own regulations. 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: This isn’t only about the public officers so let me take you to the courts. So the court is a public place and so you know you need a vaccination card or you need to prove that you have your test to show that you’re negative and let’s say for example you commit a crime and you need to a parent for a report so what will happen if you don’t have your vaccinations and you don’t have a test ? Tie up the man and take him to get vaccinated or will the man stay home free ?”

Reporter: Well you will be arrested and if you go to court you will be charged but that process the new SI says the person who was arrested whether he has the vaccination card or not that he will be tested. 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: You know what I’m not going to allow you to play the devil’s advocate in any shape or form because what we are getting at isn’t a fight with anybody we’re saying that you have the workers representatives let’s cancel these people you just can’t do things like that on your own.”