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Unions Garner More Support

On Monday we told you of the support that the joint unions are receiving from the Belize Energy Workers Union (BEWU). In a draft document the BEWU made it clear that if it comes down to cutting the supply of electricity, then so be it. As we noted earlier, the nurses have joined in as well. It is a major support for the joint unions as in recent days it seemed that they were losing momentum. Love News spoke with the President of the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM), Sharon Frazer who says that while the faces of some of the managers are not seen holding up placards, they are in support.

Sharon Frazer, President, APSSM

Sharon Frazer, President, APSSM: “I have asked members where they can to show more than just support if they can come out let them come out but you have  understand the unique position that the members of APSSM find themselves in. I’ve also been asking my members to ensure that they lend that support and solidarity to members of PSU. Remember we are their supervisors so for them to be successful it means that they also need to have our cooperation. So for the most part HODs have been asked and are in fact supporting this industrial action. As far as APSSM is concerned we’ve been at the table. You might not see us as visible as the PSU and the BNTU because our numbers are small, we’re HODs and Senior Managers and of course we have to behave responsibly but not because you don’t see us means that we’re not in solidarity. I’ve made sure myself and other leaders within the association are at every meeting, we are fully participating except as I indicated our numbers are small and while it is some of us out there because there are members who are still members of PSU although they’re heads of departments so they might be out there and you’re seeing a yellow shirt and don’t realize that they’re representing APSSM so we’ve always been there.”

Interestingly, while the staff of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) are not getting their salaries cut, leading the charge for the nurses is Darrell Spencer who is a nurse employed at the KHMH. Spencer told the media that their showing has to do with being fed up political parties and actions.

Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses Association of Belize

Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses Association of Belize: “Like I said the first time this year we are celebrating forty years as an independent nation and if you do the maths we average about two decades of each of our two crooked political parties; two decades of People’s United Party, two decades of United Democratic Party and all that we’ve gotten for those forty years is a bukut. Both parties have kept putting bukut on all of us. It is time that we as a citizen come together and stop. We nurses have always tried to lead from behind and follow the line and do what needs to be done to make this thing work but that hasn’t worked in forty years has it ? So then nurses are now getting more upfront and personal, more intimate with the operations of our country, the progress of our country.”

President Elena Smith says the protests and strike will continue for as long is necessary. She added that the joint unions have more power at this time due to the support from sister unions.

Elena Smith, President, BNTU

Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “We will continue as we said until the matters that we have as priority areas, until those are addressed.”

Reporter: And do you expect it to be ramped up now that the PSU has joined you ?

Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “Well we expect so because we have numbers now. I mean it’s not that we don’t have on our own but it’s just there’s a joint force now coming forth and as you have seen or you would have seen several other organizations have been putting out press releases in support so the support is building so we’ll see how we go from there.”

Reporter: The Minister of Education appears to be saying that you don’t have majority support within the membership of the union or even among the teachers because his numbers are that about fifty percent of the denominational school teachers are in schools and I think he said only forty percent or so of the government school’s teachers are out striking. What are your numbers if you’ve gathered those already ?

Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “I would want for him to show us those persons who are not on strike. We have to understand that a lot of schools right now are doing online classes and so there’s a difference with seeing my physically in a classroom and me waking up in the morning and putting work on my Google Classroom and doing nothing for the rest of the day.”