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Thursday, August 13, 2020
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Belize’s amended labor laws made it easy for Port to fire its workers

Dear Editor,
Labor is the physical, mental and social effort used to produce goods and services. Without workers, employers could not produce goods and services and earn profits.

Laborers are also consumers, so if workers are earning less, and less workers are employed, there is less economic activity, and the business community earns less revenue.

In 2019, the share of agriculture in Belize’s gross domestic product was 9.56 percent; industry contributed 11.96 percent, and the services sector contributed about 65.51 percent.

Although Belize’s economy needs capital, being an economy in which over 65% of the GDP is service-based indicates that the majority of Belize’s economic activity and economic growth is generated by its labor force, or workers.

In 2011, Belize amended its labor laws to make it easier to terminate workers. The ease with which the Port of Belize Limited terminated 36 workers without having to justify the process with evidence is a manifestation of our labor laws that favor employers at the expense of employees and fairness.

These changes were made to make it more attractive to investors, and many employers believe it is their right to fire an employee at will.

These kinds of exploitative laws do benefit business in the short term, but in the long term, they kill the host, so the workers will have to leave and find more fertile ground.

This happened in the United States with their autoworkers, whose benefits and real wages were curved over time.

Most automobile manufacturers moved outside the US. Car sales peaked in the US in 1986, and have generally declined as real wages in the US declined or remained general.

Belize’s National Anthem says Belize is ”Land of the Free”. If we are a free people, Belizeans should not be strangled by poverty. About 50% of Belizeans live in poverty.

As Belizeans, we must decide whether we are going to continue to let despots or oppressors rule Belize. Both the UDP and PUP have acted as proxies for big business. For example, businessman Michael Ashcroft has benefited very handsomely from both PUP and UDP governments.

Mr. Ashcroft, being a business tycoon, probably values profits as the ultimate prize, and humans as a means to an end. We should not have malice against any tycoon, but understand that they are consumers who extract maximum value for themselves.

They do not come to Belize to save us, but to increase their wealth. Belize might benefit from their endeavor, but the tycoon benefits much more.

I recommend that Belize look to the Scandinavian countries where labor is respected and workers work less hours and have decent benefits; yet, their economies are prosperous.

Yours truly,
Brian Ellis Plummer

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