Well, it’s Friday, and as you already know, there exists a stand-off between the government of Belize and the Joint Unions. This stand-off came about after negotiations started back in February to seek to chart a way forward on how the government can save some 80 million dollars annually, and their proposal was by means of a 10% salary cut in addition to an increment freeze for 3 years. Well, the negotiations were by all means in the government’s favor, and very little that the Unions proposed was countenanced. Things came to a head on Friday, April 9, when the government went ahead and read the budget, annexing the cuts before the negotiations were officially concluded. Well, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back!
Things Are Heating Up
Beyond their actions to just proceed to read the budget without the negotiations being amicably drawn to a close, many things that the government did, reflected a recalcitrant attitude and provoked the ire of the unions and its members. This started with some phony ads that they or their agents are running to seek to bring the teachers and public servants into disrepute in a quest to trump their cause. This is now further compounded by the fact that the proposed salary increases will now be tiered, ranging from 8% – 12% respectively.
Well, the Unions are not having it, and it’s not because they are playing hard ball. News flash: they simply CANNOT AFFORD IT. Hello?! In numerical value, we are talking anywhere from $160 to $750 in salary reductions monthly for teachers and public servants across this country! Imagine, bringing home your salary, less that amount, for a protracted 3 years? In essence you will be sentencing your people to undue poverty and strife and possible starvation!
Well, as much and as hard as one works for his bread and butter, he will fight bitterly and tenaciously to safeguard it. So now, things are heating up. The PSU has put the government on notice of intended strike; the BNTU are gearing up and are awaiting the final mandate from their membership, the Nurses Association has joined the throng, and many businesses and people across this country stand ready, shoulder to shoulder with the teachers and public servants.
See, if you cut the salaries of teachers and public servants, everybody stands to lose. And trust me, the businesses will take a lick that many of them will not even be able to rebound from. This proposed cut will be a cut across the board. If my spending power is weakened and lessened, then I will not be able to buy anything unnecessary from anybody who has a product to offer. But more daunting are the many people who await their portion from these salaries of teachers and public servants; the dependents of these people. They too will take a serious lick.
So if it is that a move must be made against this government for their haughty decision, then move we must, because the implications of such a cut will be more far-reaching than not. We di hear bout cut and cut and cut, but nothing about mortgage reductions! We aren’t hearing anything about reduction in utilities. We are not hearing anything about moratorium on loans and car note payments and the likes. But you want to talk about cut and cut and cut? You seek to cut the poor when your bread is buttered and toasted on all sides?
The Government Needs to do MORE
You (with your full belly) cannot look down and tell those with hungry belly to kip haat! As the government, you need to do more! You know why the Unions can’t accept the cut that you propose? You know why they aren’t ceding to your requests and propositions? It is because you as the government have sorely failed to LEAD, and LEAD by EXAMPLE, that is! You are proposing to cut teachers and public servants’ salaries and increments that when compounded total around 12.5% when you yourself are only surrendering a 15% salary reduction at best.
What an outright disgrace! I read in the literature how many other world leaders and their cabinets are surrendering their entire salaries. Some countries have pledged 50% reduction in salaries for their ministers and leaders, while some others have done up to 75%. So perhaps, if you had done more or have committed to do more, then perhaps, the people would be more amenable to your requests and your proposals; who knows?
You know what the truth of the matter is? This government failed to shepherd the flock because while given two repeated mandates, they have made some funny moves that don’t sit well with the masses. And we are watching them and somehow, their actions provokes an ire in us and we can’t trust them. I would think that by now, given the resounding mandate that was thrust upon them, coupled with their Plan Belize, that considerable strides would be made to accede to UNCAC and implement legislation to root out corruption, cronyism and unlawful enrichment.
But, Cha! We are clinging to idle hopes, I tell you. So now that things are heating up, one could only understand why. The government could have done better and has failed to really lead by example and amend with the people. Now, with a move to cut teachers’ and public servants’ salaries, the camel’s back has been broken and now the straw wavers in the wind and is heading towards ground. When the straw hits the ground, well you know, it’s on!
Keep your eyes open.
Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist