BELIZE CITY, Wed, May 19, 2021 – On Tuesday, May 18, members of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the Civil Service Union (PSU) held mock funeral processions – a symbolic form of protest that marks a break marked by set up the day before to prevent traffic on the roads and highways of the country. They marched through the streets, carrying a coffin, as they claimed to perform funeral rites to mark the death of corruption. Many of them, as they walked along the roads in municipalities across the country, chanted and cried in an effort to simulate public grief. This is the latest attempt by unions to send their message of discontent to the government of Belize.
While PSU First Vice President Dean Flowers acknowledged that corruption is still very “alive,” he explained that the purpose of the exhibit was to show the union’s willingness to put an end to it.
The token burial was carried out amid a standoff between the Mixed Unions and the Belize government, which continues with no apparent end in sight. The unions held a press conference after the protest to present their views on why the strike is going on.
“We know that at the start of the discussion, we were in consultation and we asked that we move from consultations to negotiations, because then we were looking at other areas. However, we were unable to get the government to [engage] in negotiations. At one point we had asked, and they said ‘yes, we are negotiating’, and other times they said ‘we are consulting and collaborating’, ”Elena Smith, National President of BNTU, said at the conference. Press.
She added: “I think one of the main reasons we are still where we are now is the simple fact that there has been a setback in discussion of our negotiations or consultations with the government and one of the things we have placed. on the table was the issue of the increase freeze and how to fix that increase freeze, and we had asked the government, when the freeze ended, that our members be placed on the right scale at the end of this freeze. , because you would understand that if it is that my increment is frozen and that I am not put on the right scale after that, that means that for the rest of my career I would lose, and so tell myself that in the end or by the time of retirement that you would then use those calculations, the ones that would be based on my scale and that I should be, really don’t solve the problems.
She then said that initially the government had verbally agreed to ensure that civil servants were placed on the right scale after the freeze on increases ended, rather than upon retirement. She stressed, however, that the government of Sudan reneged on this promise in the most recent, and apparently final, offer made by the prime minister.
“When we received the last letter from the government which they refer to as the ‘last’ letter, this question was not included, and when we interviewed her, we were told that, based on advice, they couldn’t do it anymore, so we left the table with this offer. We presented this offer to our members, and our members accepted this offer, and it was one of the offers our members were willing to accept that would have helped us come to a conclusion at the last meeting. However, that has been taken out, and so our members are saying, “Well, we’re not getting anything”. You talk about the government that gives so many things to unions, but the one that is most important to us, you took it off the table, ”said Smith.
She also mentioned during the press conference that during discussions with the government, promissory notes had been discussed and union leaders needed to get feedback from their members so that a final decision could be taken at the meeting. last meeting. However, the details of the promissory note were changed in the Prime Minister’s televised public speech and in his letter to the unions, in which a new offer was presented.
“As you all know, before we even had a chance to come to this table to share with the government our members’ position on this offer, we received a new offer of compensation – one that we did not have. not had the opportunity to grab. our members to share with them, even digest us as leaders to be able to explain to our members what the offer would look like, ”said Smith.
She also referred to other offers that had been put on the table that they believed had come to an agreement. However, a number of these were omitted from the government’s latest offer, Smith noted. “The final document we received saw a lot of these offers missing, or they weren’t the same as the previous offer,” she said.
She also said that the latest round of proposals received from the government did not mention whether or not retirees would be affected by the upcoming cuts.
“We were told that retirees would not be affected by this pay cut, but in the last document received which they claim to be the last document, the last offer of this document, nothing is mentioned about retirees not affected. , so will they or will they not? Because if this is your last offer and your final document and this document should have everything in it, then that should be there as well, ”Smith said.
Smith also said the forbearance offer on mortgages and personal loans for teachers and civil servants had also been changed in the package put forward by the government. The government offer before the most recent proposal included leniency on personal loans and mortgages. The latest offer only mentions mortgages, according to Smith.
She said they also agreed that a collective agreement for teachers would eventually be reached. The first meeting was scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 15, but Smith noted that the meeting did not take place and the government has not given them any indication of when it will take place. She said the ABC signing after 13 years had been discussed, but was not included in the last offer made in the letter they received.
She also indicated that the Mixed Unions will respond to the government’s latest offer.
“We should respond to this document, to the last offer, to the last supper. We will respond to them as mixed unions and report these errors based on our discussions. Again we have to understand that as these meetings go on we end up with verbal agreements, and in the end it was expected that by the last meeting we would have had we would have put these agreements in writing, and we would have signed. Both parties would have approved them, and this document contained all the things we would have agreed on in those meetings from the start to the last meeting. However, as we have shared with you, not all of them were included, so we will need to respond to them now and point out areas that need to be adjusted to ensure they are properly captured according to our agreements during these. meetings, ”Smith said.