BELIZE CITY, Fri. Jan. 8, 2021– The Public Service Union of Belize has gone on record to express their objections to comments made by the government at the recent House of Representatives meeting and also to GOB’s decision to terminate certain public officers. On Friday, January 8, 2021, the PSU issued two press releases to highlight their concerns as well as to call for an investigation by the union’s industrial relations officer. Their first release was a response to remarks made by the Minister of Infrastructure, Development and Housing, Hon. Julius Espat, during Friday’s House of Representatives meeting. According to the release, Minister Espat stated, “Not a single public officer came forward to report the wrongdoings of the former Minister of Works and his CEO over the years that the abuse and fleecing of government assets persisted under the previous administration.’
The PSU, however, argues that contrary to Minister Espat’s claims, they have constantly pointed out the corruption occurring in the Ministry of Works, and these statements of the union date as far back as 2010, prior to the appointment of the former Minister of Works. The PSU went on to assert that the then Opposition made no attempts to “agitate” for a special audit of the Ministry.
They suggest in their release that the Minister of Infrastructure join them in advocating for a Whistleblowers Act:
“Consequently in accordance with Article 33 (Protection of Reporting Persons) of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the PSU calls on the Minister of Infrastructure as a legislator, to join with the PSU in advocating and championing the introduction of a Whistle Blowers Act. Considering that the current administration is on record for stating that improved governance to eliminate corruption in Government can be implemented or started in the first 100 days in office, the PSU wishes to lend its full support behind the Minister of Infrastructure in ensuring the Ministry of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform (MPSCPR) move to introduce legislation to protect whistle-blowers at the next sitting of the House of Representatives,” the PSU’s release stated.
The PSU concluded this release by also calling on the Opposition to assist in ensuring the matter is addressed with urgency and also calling upon public officers within all ministries to work with the GOB and all other relevant entities to snuff out corruption where possible.
In the second release issued by the PSU, the union claims to be in receipt of multiple complaints from public workers who were employed under the Government (Open Vote) Workers Regulations (GWR) but have recently been terminated. The union’s industrial relations officer has reportedly been tasked to review those terminations to determine whether any of the PSU’s members’ rights to protection of the law have been violated:
“The Union vows to challenge these terminations in accordance with the rules and regulations set out under the GWR as well as under the Public Service Regulations (PSR), where it is found that our members were held against an established post and in continuous employment whilst employed as Open Vote Workers. Furthermore, the PSU president has contacted the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the Ministry of the Public Service, Constitutional and Political Reform (MPSCPR) to express our concern over these terminations which are being classified as political victimization,” the union stated in its release.
The PSU concluded by inviting all of its members to bring to their attention any acts of political victimization and unwarranted political hiring in these “times of economic strain when austerity and discipline should be the order of the day”.