The University of Belize’s Faculty and Staff Union (UBFSU) had threatened to take industrial action if their demands were not met, and tomorrow, those threats will come to fruition. The Union is holding a demonstration at 10am, commencing at the steps of the National Assembly. According to the Union, this is being held on the basis of their demands for the Labor Department to produce their signed certificate as well as for the UB Senior Administration to follow due process of consultation with the faculty and staff with regard to its declaration of financial exigency. Today, when we spoke with the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Harrison Pilgrim, he stated that he does not know what the demonstration is about and, further, cannot believe that the faculty employed at the university would take such measures. He believes that the Union is making falsehoods in their claims in order to garner support.
Harrison Pilgrim, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, University of Belize: “I have no idea what is being protested. As I said all I understood from the comments Dr.Saqui made is that this protest is about transparency and the fact that the University management has failed to provide them with financials for the university- that is patently untrue. The annual audited financials for 2017-2018 are published and are on the University’s website. I wrote to the union on Monday night, had it delivered to them on Tuesday night after we had a meeting together and they requested that we allow auditors, mutually acceptable to each other our auditor, their auditor to meet and to review our financials. We even went so far as to say that we would have our acting Director of Finance join that meeting so that any current information that may be required could be pulled from our 2019-2020 information which is incomplete- the year has not ended as yet and so we do not have a full set of financials for 2019-2020; that will not be available until sometime after July 31st when the year ends. We made that offer to the union in writing, we have not received any response and I’ve been really amazed to hear the union president say that we have declined to show or to give them our unaudited financials. No business place worth its salt and no accounting person who knows the ins and outs of financials would even presume to ask for people’s unaudited accounts especially before the end of a period.”
A letter issued by the President of UB late this evening stated that he will be hosting an online meeting on Monday, July 13, where he will be presenting his recommendations on how to move forward. The Union is invited to the meeting and is expected to present their own suggestions and recommendations prior.