BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 5, 2015–What do Belize Electricity Ltd. (BEL), Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), the University of Belize (UB) and Social Security Board (SSB) have in common? Disgruntled workers of all these institutions have expressed their discontent with certain aspects of the terms of their employment, and have taken steps to push their government-based employers to meet their demands.
As Amandala readers will recall, in September, KHMH staff successfully reached an agreement with the KHMH board of governors and the Government of Belize for a salary increase of 14%. These readers will also recall that in our October 4 edition, it was reported that after months of negotiations, the Minister of Labour Godwin Hulse, acting as mediator, was able to establish a settlement between the Belize Energy Workers Union representing the BEL employees and the BEL management. BEL staff will be getting a 1.75% yearly across-the-board salary increase for the next four years, with effect from this year, 2015.
On the heels of this, a letter dated September 30 requesting a 14% salary increase was sent by the University of Belize’s faculty and staff to the president of the University of Belize. The letter was sent from a pro-tem committee, said Fermin Olivera, president of UBFSA (University of Belize Faculty & Staff Association). Olivera was elected president on September 30, and on October 2, a second letter was sent to Alan Slusher, the president of the University of Belize.
The October 2 letter informed Slusher of the newly appointed core team, which consists of Olivera as president; Harrison Flowers as vice president; Ian Sangster as treasurer; and Melanie Smith as secretary. A request was also made for a meeting with the president of the University of Belize, Slusher, either on Monday, October 5, or Tuesday, October 6, to discuss the issues of the September 30 letter. Slusher has responded to the letter and a meeting is scheduled for tomorrow between him and the UBFSA core team.
Meanwhile, it was reported that union members of the Social Security Board, countrywide, were on a go-slow today and protested during their lunch break, because the staff has not received their clothing allowance of $450 per annum.
Since general elections are scheduled to take place on November 4, just a month from now, the UDP administration might feel that it is too risky to go into general elections with a hostile UB faculty and staff.