BELIZE CITY, Wed. Apr. 28, 2021– The Public Service Union has announced that it will begin strike action next week, following the first week of industrial action by the teachers. The Joint Unions are persisting in their call for good governance and rejection of the 10% salary cut.
This week the national President of the BNTU, Elena Smith, told local media that the teachers would be out of the classrooms for as long as necessary. The 1st vice President of the PSU, Dean Flowers, has since said that the members of his union have expressed similar sentiments, and are ready to go for the “long haul.”
In an interview with News5’s Paul Lopez, he commented, “If it is that these public officers have strong conviction for good governance and understands that you cannot [put] a price on good governance, then this will be a strike we proceed with for the long haul.”
In light of the stance of the unions and the current impasse between the unions and the government, these protests can go on for weeks. The Attorney General, Hon. Magali Marin Young, has already described the constraints her Ministry is facing in its ability to draft and table the necessary good governance legislation to activate the UNCAC due to the lack of legal draftspersons; and the salary cuts have now been ratified in the Senate.
Furthermore, the negotiation between the Government of Belize and the Joint Unions have officially come to a close, according to Flowers, since the Minister of Labor, Hon. Oscar Requeña, has refused to convene a dispute tribunal, effectively disregarding the PSU’s declaration of the trade dispute and the Settlement of Dispute Act.
Flowers said that the disrespect and regard for the law has forced the PSU to proceed with its strike action, for as long as necessary.
The 21-day notice period which must precede a strike by public service workers, will elapse on May 3, and the PSU will then call on all workers of the public service, inclusive of essential workers, to join their fight against the Government of Belize.
In a Cabinet Brief issued late this evening, the Government of Belize informed the public that the Minister of the Public Service, Henry Charles Usher, had written the unions on April 22 to outline the Government’s position.