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Unions Gear Up for Industrial Action

A trade dispute has been declared giving rise for industrial action and serving a 21-days notice on the government which could possibly result in a strike action if an amicable agreement is not reached within 21 days.  Love News has confirmed that this evening the President of the Public Service Union (PSU) Gerald Henry served its 21-days notice to the Labour Commissioner Anne Marie Thompson. It is the latest news coming out of the ongoing impasse between the government and three particular unions: The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), the Public Service Union (PSU), and the Association of Public Service Senior Mangers (APSSM).  Additionally, Love News has learnt that as early as tomorrow the PSU will begin certain classes of industrial action which could range from a go-slow to sick-outs.  As the Public Service Union moves full steam ahead, we have learnt that the BNTU was polling its members over the weekend up to ten o’clock this morning.  The poll was to determine whether or not the teachers would support industrial action as a result of government’s presentation of the budget which reflects salary cuts and increment freezes for three years.  Best information to our newsroom indicate that ninety one percent of the teachers who participated in the polls are prepared to engage in strike action.  The status of the APSSM is still unclear, but we are following its developments.  As the unions prepare for this next step, President of National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) Luis Martinez has expressed disappointment in the ads being circulated on social media and local media which he says are political and promotes division at a time when unity is needed. 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “In fact the actions of those who are indulged in the campaign against the labor movement their actions are tantamount to union busting. The labor movement we are not fighting with anyone. It is true like what the great Reggae singer Buju Banton said that we can go on and on and the story has never been told. The story of the working class in this country has been told and it has to continue to be told. The untold stories will come out. We cannot be a part of the blatant union busting that is occurring. The campaign against the people who are working hard in this country it has nothing to do with APSSM, it has nothing to do with BNTU, it has nothing to do with PSU, it has nothing to do with National Trade Union Congress. What we are doing has to do with national building. We cannot crucify the people who are assisting in nation building, it’s not fair.” 

As it relates to the plan for industrial action, NTUCB’s Martinez says he is in full support of the unions’ decisions. 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUC: “When we are giving reasonable and tangible advice to a government and earlier you said that we are in war mode, we’re not in war mode. We keep on saying that we are having good faith consultations. It’s a pity to see the media houses running in a different direction of what is happening. We are not at war with the Government of Belize, we are in good faith consultations, we have shown the Government of Belize what needs to be done and what has to happen will happen.”