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Dec 23, 2002

Public officers and Govt. agree to new contract

Santa came early this year for public officers and teachers, but the gifts will come a little later. With municipal elections scheduled for March and a general no later than August, the agreement, which will take effect in April, seems to be a good compromise between fiscal restraint and electoral largesse.

The increases approved for each of the next three years are five percent for senior officers and teachers, while junior officers, junior teachers and pensioners receive eight percent. An additional one percent increase is promised on the condition that the G.D.P. grows by five percent in 2003 and 2004, and by seven percent in 2005. This bonus would take effect on April first, 2005.

A Positions Classification Exercise, designed to review the lower pay scales with a view to improve them, was also agreed upon as part of the benefit package. This system should eliminate about ten of the thirty pay scales that currently exist.

For their part, the unions have promised to help implement a Meritocracy System. This is designed to increase efficiency in the workforce through a more effective appraisal of employee performance.

Formal signing of the agreement is expected to take place in early January between Government and the Public Service Union, Belize National Teacher’s Union and Association of Senior Managers. Teachers and public officers had demonstrated earlier this year for salary increases and improved benefits.

In related news, the newly privatised Port of Belize has also signed a new contract with its unionized workers. The two year agreement, running from April first of this year, calls for a three percent pay hike retroactive to January first, 2002, plus a four percent increase beginning January first 2003. Signing on behalf of the port was C.E.O. Alberto Mahler and senior executives. President Antonio Gonzales and General Secretary James McFoy, along with other representatives, signed for the C.W.U.

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