“We want our pension; we deserve our pension!”
BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 15, 2019– The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH), which is managed by the KHMH Board of Directors, has had a policy of not providing pension for its employees. That situation has been brought into sharp focus by the KHMH Workers Union, which has been making strident demands for its members to receive their pension. Last Friday, the KHMH Union staged industrial action in the form of a walk-out.
This afternoon, Monday, July 15, the goings-on at the country’s premier referral hospital appeared to be normal. According to the hospital’s public relations officer, Tylon Tillett, those participating in the impromptu walkout were from all sectors of the hospital. Tillett estimated that about 125 KHMH employees participated in the walkout.
When he was asked what is the KHMH response to the industrial action that occurred on Friday, Tillett replied that so far, the hospital has not formulated a response.
“I know that this morning the union had a meeting with the Minister of Health,” Tillett added.
We asked Tillett, “How long ago did the KHMH Union find out that the hospital had no pension policy for its employees.”
Tillett said the union found that out this past January.
Since the hospital is considered as an essential service, the industrial action on Friday only lasted for about one hour, before all the workers returned to their various stations.
The president of the KHMH Workers Union, Lidia Blake, told reporters on Friday, “There is a big issue concerning our pension, and we just want to send a message that we are who we are. We do what we do and we are just asking for what we deserve. We do the work. We do much more than other public servants out there in the country, and we are just as deserving of a pension. That’s all we are asking — a pension.”
“We just want a clarification. We do the work on a daily basis. We have done our part trying to set up a provident fund that at least we have something in case it goes the other way, that we are not entitled to pension. This is my personal view: If I am working in this country and I am paying taxes and I am tilling the soil every day, I am entitled to a pension. Who is going to pay? That is what we need to find out,” Blake went on to say.
Blake added that up to May of this year, they were told at a staff meeting that they had gotten a legal opinion which confirmed that the KHMH workers are pensionable.
The union’s vice president, Andrew Baird, also weighed in, saying: “Let the court decide whether we are pensionable or not. We understand what the pension act says. We understand what Karl Heusner Act says, or else we would have not been here.
“We think we deserve our pension just like our brothers and sisters out there in the regional hospitals. We do our work and whatever else is asked of us … we are saying to the powers that be, come sit with us. You sign a declaration or a memorandum of understanding in 2015, come back to the table. We’ve been trying to get them to the table via the board of directors and the management of Karl Heusner, who decided not to include the government. We believe from that memorandum of understanding, all this has arisen, and we must bring them back to the table to settle the matter. We want our pension. We deserve our pension, and that’s final.”
“The membership asks for a walkout today. We are not disrupting the services at Karl Heusner. We are a responsible body, we understand the type of service that we give to this country, but also we are asking the nation to understand that we deserve to have our pension,” Baird said.