Letters — 22 August 2014

Dear Editor,

In MATTHEW 7:24-27, Jesus shares with us the parable about the two builders. In the parable, the foolish man built his house upon the sand whereas the wise man built his house upon the rock. When the rains came the house built upon the sand was washed away but the house built upon the rock stood fast.

On June 5, 2014 several pressure groups came together to form the Rod of Correction (ROC). The President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) informed the media that it was the “trade union movement, in an attempt to bring the social partners together” that called for the meeting and implicitly, the formation of the ROC.

The formation of the ROC is an interesting development. This is particularly so, when one understands that ROC cannot do anything that the NTUCB could not have done on its own. So what’s the deal here?

The NTUCB is by far the civil society organization with the largest constituency—they have thousands of members. So why would the NTUCB feel the need to recruit other social partners in its efforts to deal with the Barrow administration? And social partners with barely any constituents at that?

The only reason I can come up with is that the NTUCB is looking for cover. But why? Why would the NTUCB feel the need to deal with the Barrow administration by way of the ROC?

Interestingly, on August 11, 2014, the United Democratic Party issued a press release chiding the ROC and the Citizens Organized for Liberty Through Action (COLA), for what they perceive to be partisan inaction in the wake of the allegations against the PUP standard bearer for the Belize Rural North constituency. COLA was singled out for special mention but not the NTUCB even though they are both members of the ROC.

It is glaringly obvious that the NTUCB has become “soft” since 2008. The militancy that we saw in 2005 has evaporated—the NTUCB of today is a far cry from the NTUCB of old. Was it not the selfsame President who led the charge against the Musa administration in 2005? Reform, resign or be removed! That was his cry. So what happened since 2008? How is it that the NTUCB has become, for all intents and purposes, impotent?

Is it because the Barrow administration is less corrupt than the Musa administration was? Is it because the Unions are satisfied with the treatment afforded them by the Barrow administration? Is it because the Belizean people are happy with the current state of affairs? Or is it because the leadership of the NTUCB has been compromised?
If I were to hazard a guess I would say it is the latter. The leadership of the NTUCB has been showing structural fault lines for some time now. They could not even muster fifty members for the annual Labour Day rally. Imagine! On the one day when the trade unionists should be flexing their muscle, the President and his band of merry men marched jokingly through the streets of Belize City.

My confidence in the leadership of the NTUCB was shaken even further when they left the Teachers all by their lonesome during the “Teachaz got u bak” rallies.

Outside of a few poorly worded press releases, the NTUCB also stood idly by and watched the Penner betrayal; the shenanigans at the Ministry of Health/KHMH; the King confession; the Airport Authority debacle; the George Street murders, etc, etc.

Now, in the face of such obvious self-induced paralysis, cometh the ROC? And at the behest of the NTUCB? Something is wrong here!

The casual observer would not be far off the mark to arrive at the conclusion that the ROC is a still- born. The Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA) still hasn’t planted its corn; the Danini Contreras’ appointment has not been reversed; US Capital marched into Toledo with great fanfare; COLA’s private prosecution collapsed under the weight of official cover-up; the gender policy remains firmly in place, and the honourable Prime Minister has said to the Unions, I have nothing more to talk to you about—sign the collective bargaining agreement!

So again I ask. What’s the deal here, ROC?

For the record, I happen to support BGYEA, COLA, the Pharmacists Association, the BNTU and the other social partners that are pressing for a better Belize: one free of corruption and nepotism.

My unsolicited advice to them is simply this. The rains are coming; don’t build your house upon a ROC!

Major Lloyd Jones (R)

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