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Unions Says GOB is making Visible Steps Toward Good Governance

Last week President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize Luis Martinez told Love News that the Joint Unions sent a letter to Prime Minister John Briceno requesting an update on the list of commitments, the government made in lieu of the ten percent pay cut. According to Martinez, the letter has gone unanswered and the Joint Unions is not planning to wait for a response any longer.

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “The government they made commitments and we want to continue to ensure that we hold them to those commitments. They have to follow through with the commitments. The Social Partnership Committee is one of the greatest commitments that we are looking forward to because that would have assist us in meeting our fiscal, it would help us to meet our fiscal demands. So that has to happen. We cannot wait until October. The joint unions, National Trade Union Congress we are not prepared to wait until October that is too far because the next thing these people will come with is retrenchment.”

Reporter: So what happens if he doesn’t answer the letter ?

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “How you mean what happens if they don’t answer the letter ? They have an obligation to answer us.”

Reporter: You sent it. He hasn’t answered as yet according to you.

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “So you think the joint unions will sit down and be satisfied with a no response ?”

Reporter: So how many days has the joint union been sitting down since you sent the letter ? 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “Over a week.”

Reporter: How much longer will you be keep sitting down ? 

Luis Martinez, President, NTUCB: “Good question. How much longer is the government going to ignore their responsibility and that is a question you should ask them.”

Our newsroom asked Prime Minister John Briceno about the letter today and he said that he met with NTUCB President Luis Martinez last week.

John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I don’t know what he’s talking about because we have been meeting, we have met with them. I met with Mr.Martinez I think it was about last week too and he and the vice president and we said that we were looking forward to be able to continue to work closely together. We have already asked them to give us a name to be in the National Bank of Belize. I think he’s looking for joint committee to be able to look at how the taxes are performing but that should not take place I think until October if I remember right and between now and then we still have to put the reports together so that when we meet they can see what we’re doing.”

We also asked the President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union Senator Elena Smith about it. According to Senator Smith, significant steps towards good governance has been made.

Elena Smith, BNTU President: “It’s not just the hours as you may be aware the matter of the National Bank and the DFC with the assistance that they are offering to public officers – and when we say public officers teachers are included so I think sometimes even these institutions when they hear the word public officers they only think about public officers who work in government offices and not teachers so that offer in terms of mortgages is still there but also the forbearance from the banks because I ensured that I spoke with Minister Coye on the matters because our teachers were supposed to be able to go into the banks and discuss with them and get that assistance for the remainder of this year where they would have had reduced payments on their loans, mortgages that sort of thing. So those were still in place and in terms of the legislations that we were able to get now recall now because we do hear some persons speaking about ‘Oh the government crushed the unions.’ and ‘the government played the unions.’ that is nonsense. I mean yes we fought very hard against the 10% and yes the government went ahead and they went through with their cut however we also fought for these good governance and these matters that fall under UNCAC and these were the legislations which we were told we could not get those until eight months or so down the road and we were able to get those draft legislations within a month or so of our discussions, our strike action. So that is a huge step for us because as you rightly said before we have been an advocate for good governance for quite some time now and so those legislation that we got, the draft that we got and that we’ve seen already one tabled means that our fight was not in vain. So we do not see  and we do not ascribe to the position that the government broke us down. We lost in one area but we won in another area and that is what unionism is about you fight and you do what you have to do and you win some and you lose some.”