Letters — 23 February 2016
Letter to the Editor: The Public Sector Workers’ Trust – a pie in the sky!

Dear Editor,

Please allow me to respond to letters published in your periodical of February 7 and 14, 2016 concerning the subject of the Public Sector Workers’ Trust.

The trustees of this instrument seem to be hiding in plain view behind a Government circular from responding to very important questions posed by some foremost beneficiaries of the negotiations leading to the questionable basis of and the implementation of this Trust.

Union management exists to carry out the wishes of union members, not of Government. What was management instructed to negotiate for? If something else was proposed and accepted then management’s duty is to revert and convert the fruit of such negotiation to the nearest equal to what they were instructed to negotiate for.

Did union members in 1996-1998 instruct management to negotiate benefits for all civil servants in perpetuity, when the pressing financial needs of officers then serving were upon them? The idea of a trust was proposed in the year (1996) of that membership.

Now that most of those members are twice removed from the union through retirement and no union membership. Could they not see that they would eventually be outflanked and sidelined?

What do the minutes of union meetings reveal about those years? They must be laid on the table for impartial examination, interpretation, and corrective action.

Notwithstanding the tabling of these minutes before an impartial entity, the management of the Trust must first be detribalized by the following selection matrix. Representatives from all the major people groups and all the branches of Services Commission must be nominated to serve on the Trust. Most importantly, that selection should be made from the proposed premier beneficiaries, i.e., the 1996-1998 cadre of public officers, most of whom should be retired.

The terms of the Trust must be reviewed in considering the years of being out-of-pocket endured by the public officers of that era, vis-à-vis the plentiful and cheaper rates of finance and service conditions accessible to current serving officers, and their present and greater bargaining power.

The officers retrenched from the Public Service in 1996 must also be considered in these deliberations.

To conclude, it may also be time to establish a Belize Association of Retired Persons. There exist enough precedents and need for an organization of this kind.

Until these matters raised are satisfactorily addressed, the implementation of this trust constitutes a “pie in the sky” for those who fought for it and a compound fracture, dealt to the body of collective bargaining.

Edward Smith,

Public Officer (Retired)

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