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Unions block traffic on highways

The Public Service Union released its schedule for the first week of protest activities after a seemingly fruitless meeting with Government officials.

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 19, 2021– This morning, union members staged a blockade of the Haulover Bridge to start their week of demonstration activities against the Government of Belize. A minivan was parked on the bridge, and teachers, wearing their signature green “teechaz got yo back” tee-shirts, participated in what appeared to be a public pantomime — pretending to be mechanics attempting to fix the van, as the line of vehicles grew longer.

Dubbed an “engine, and mechanical problems” event by the PSU, this was the unions’ first protest activity today, and it set off a series of acts of protest that are to occur countrywide in all municipalities. On Sunday, the PSU released an official statement, informing its general membership of the current state of the Budget consultations and on their way forward. They presented a table outlining the action plan for this week.

Their plan includes the blocking of the highways and municipalities on Monday (today’s date), as was done at the Haulover Bridge in Belize City. Public officers and the general public will be participants in this event.

On Tuesday, April 20, protest walks are scheduled countrywide, PSU members will march in their yellow shirts and with placards and signs. On April 21, many public officers will again not be reporting to work, as the union has planned financial stress and medical check-up day.

In Belmopan, the union has scheduled a rotating budget debate demonstration. During the scheduled two-day budget debate, members of the various union branches will come out to protest in their yellow shirts.

In circular # 3 of 2021, the PSU said that the Government has not revisited its decision to proceed with the salary cuts and is now considering invoking Section 106(3) of the Belize Constitution, which empowers the government to put in place any fixed salaries and privileges after consultation.

“Furthermore, following our notice to the Minister of Labour of the existence of a trade dispute between the Government and the Union, the Minister of Labour has responded advising that he does not intend to refer the trade dispute to the Tribunal as contemplated under section 11 of the Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act, Cap. 298, since the legal framework for such referral and the final resolution of the disputes thereunder, in so far as they apply to public officers, are inconsistent with section 106(3) of the Constitution,” the PSU release stated.

They added that they are demanding that the Government of Belize implement good governance legislation in accordance with the UNCAC, as well as other transparency and accountability legislation.

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