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Jul 20, 2009

Agreement achieved at K.H.M.H., but how?

Story PictureFriday’s mediation process between the Belize Medical and Dental Union and the administration of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital came to a satisfactory conclusion for both groups. There was worry that the groups would have to be taken to arbitration since there were outright accusations of impropriety on both sides. It got tense with a go slow, a sick out, a walk out during mediation, and a persistent call for the board Chairman to be put on the chopping block. But at the end of the day both groups signed a thirteen point memorandum in which they agreed to keep the peace. But how did they manage to surmount what seemed insurmountable? Senator Hulse and Labour Commissioner explained what transpired last Friday.

Godwin Hulse, Senator
“When there is a burning issue, an issue as sensitive and delicate as this, when allegations have been flung back and forth, as human beings, peoples emotions become involved and it becomes difficult. You need to have a situation where people sit down with parties who are neutral to help to come to a resolution and a conclusion and that is what we did. Of course what we attempted to prevent was any type of arbitration, which we would never have gone there. We’re dealing with the highest level of professionals on both sides who are very dignified and highly respect board and a very dignified and highly respected union. It is not the type of union where they are rabble rousers, these are your high professionals and consequently, it simply needed a bit of massage to come to the right language to come to the right conclusion. The conclusion was really theirs; we simply facilitated that process.”

Ivan Williams, Labour Commissioner
“The whole issue of mediation is one of negotiation which means that the parties come up with points of view and it is negotiated to the point where the parties will have to come to an amicable understanding. So we cannot be coercing or forcing people so sometimes it requires time for persons to go and review the context of what the other side is proposing. So clearly it takes time. Sometimes you have to allow for time to cool off. All sort of things happen so it’s not like sitting down at one point in time and come to a conclusion. It usually takes a little process and a while to reach thatagreement.”

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