Belize - Belize News - Channel5Belize.com - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, People & Places » Strike action may be less than a month away for S.S.B. workers
Feb 15, 2011

Strike action may be less than a month away for S.S.B. workers

Countrywide the majority of employees of the Social Security Board called in sick on Monday.  The sickout was to get the S.S.B.’s attention over what they feel is their employer’s effort to derail negotiations for a salary increase.  The action came on one of the institution’s busiest days of the month, the fourteenth, when employee contributions from companies across the country are turned in.  It forced the S.S.B. to dispatch minority workers, some of whom are contract workers, to the branches that were most affected by the sick-out; that cost is still being tallied.  And while the fragile situation at one of the country’s most prominent quasi-government institutions has delayed business, the end result of any further industrial action could translate into even greater woes.  News Five’s Marion Ali sat down today with Antonio Gonzalez, the President of the Christian Workers’ Union to find out what the future holds for institution and employees.

Marion Ali, Reporting

Monday’s sick-out of upwards of sixty percent of Social Security Board employees delivered a blow to the institution’s business.  The workers are demanding an increase of their salaries, which were last raised in 2007.  In a telephone conversation, the Board’s Chief Executive Officer, Merlene Bailey Martinez, told News Five that the sick-out has delayed the processing of contributions by about two days and has racked up a bill for the dispatching of employees who did show up to work to other offices to fill the void.

Merlene Bailey Martinez

Bailey Martinez did not wish to comment further on the matter because of its sensitive nature and said the Board only wants to reach common ground with the employees.  She did, however, offer to respond, if she saw it fit, to the comments that President of the Christian Workers’ Union, Antonio Gonzalez has made on the issue at hand.

The union, which represents over one hundred employees of the SSB that called in sick, feels that the institution has been dragging its feet and that has had a negative effect on the Union members.

Antonio Gonzalez, President, C.W.U.

“The members are very dissatisfied and through this dissatisfaction it has created some ingredients to this dissatisfaction, like frustration, like stress, like the low morale at the office.  So whether these things, and we call it sickout and they call it industrial action, these things gear towards employees getting, feeling an ill about the whole situation at Social Security and the way management is dealing with the current negotiations.”

Antonio Gonzalez

According to Gonzalez, the negotiations for the employees’ new salary increase began back in 2008 when the Christian Workers’ Union submitted proposals, a process that took about a year for the negotiations to begin.  But during the process, Gonzalez said the Social Security Board shifted the goalposts.

Antonio Gonzalez

“So they systematically started to introduce these policies—policies on loans, policies on education loans, policies on subsistence/meal allowance, policies on sick leave, policies on, the latest is the to and fro (from work employment injury0 which has touched our members deeply—so going to work now you are not covered.   So there’s a compilation of these policies, which has somewhat derailed the negotiations.  And in October of 2010, the Union submitted some new and revised proposal thinking that this would be a way forward for an amicable settlement between both parties but to date we haven’t received any response to those proposals.”

Instead of responding to the proposals, Gonzalez said, the Social Security Board wrote this letter, dated January eighteenth, in which it states that a salary increase will only be palatable if dealt with in conjunction with a review of benefits contributions, and that the Board has decided to act expeditiously to consider in particular an increase to certain categories of pensions.  That was not satisfactory to the Union members and Gonzalez says they intend to take their actions a step further.  Today, the Union wrote to the Ministry of Labor, issuing a twenty-one day notice of intended strike action, which means that if the negotiations do not end in a settlement before March sixteenth, the employees of the S.S.B. will go on strike nationwide.  Marion Ali for News Five.

Be Sociable, Share!


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

4 Responses for “Strike action may be less than a month away for S.S.B. workers”

  1. Reggie says:

    Hold your ground SSB Employe. Show this Pm that you have right.If BTL was making money I don’t see why they had to take the fifty millions from SSB to buy shares.They should have used that money to give you guy a raise.and take care of the poor.Get rid of the UDP.They are a family party n don’t know how to give to other.Pm think you all are his Slave.

  2. spanglish says:

    THIS IS BS, THESE PEOPLE THAT WORK AT SOCIAL SECURITY HAVE NO KIND OF PUBLIC RELATION, WHENEVER YOU GO ANY OF THE SS OFFICES, FOR WAN LEE CHECK THEY TREAT YOU LIKE IF WE ARE BEGGARS, WHEN YOU CLAIM SICKNESS BENEFIT, THEY SPIN YOU AROUND LIKE WAN “TOP”, NOW THEY WANT MORE MONEY FROM OUR HARD EARNING, NOW THIS DAH KAKABULL!!!
    BECAUSE THESE WORKERS KNOWS HOW MONEY SS THIEF FROM THE HARD WORKING PEOPLE, WHAT THEY SHOULD FIGHT FOR IS FOR US RETIREES TO GET OUR PENSION AT 55YEARS,
    THIS IS WHAT MR GONZALEZ SHOULD BE FIGHTING FOR, I JUST HOPE IF THEY GET THEIR INCREMENT THEY START TO TREAT WE THE PEOPLE WHO PAY THEIR SALARIES LIKE HUMANS.

    SOCIAL SECURITY IS THE WORSE THIEF IN THIS LAND, WE THE POOR ALWAYS END UP WITH THE BUCCUT IN OUR @$$.

  3. wit out struggle there is no progress says:

    Hey people let me educate a little…………..SSB employess is about 300 – 350 including Management…………..Pensioners of the scheme is about 6000 – 7000. Can u imagine if 300 people get a 5% increase wat it would cost to increase the other 6000. and this is a 4 year period. On other note…..the employees of SSB do not enjoy an incremental system as other institutions do. SSB employees only get a raise if there is a negociation. As i wrote yesterday it would take the minister’s hand to change Benefits that the Insurance Scheme offers. Pension and benefits are calculated by formula and is law. to put it in as simple as i can make it. It is base on contributions. it is calculate on 1: how much u pay in as in number of contributions u hav…….2. the amounts of years that u have been paying and 3. the rate at which u have been paying in……………..there are other little things taken into account but that is the gist of it, so not all benefits, (money wise) is actually the same…………..now and u imagine u multiplying that by 5% or 6% for the next 4 years. Has SSB stop doing their actuaries. Hold your ground employees. The last time i check……………Salary increase is base on COLA……..which is Cost of Living Adjustment…………….or did I read wrong……….

  4. ivan cal says:

    I agree stand up for ur/our rights, we cannot continue to tolerate dis arrogant dean barrow government and don’t be afraid of baily martinez she just an employee as anyone of you SSB staff,anytime she can get fired,she is just sweating fever for this IGNORANT/ARROGANT UDP GOVERNMENT.’and thats a way all Belizeans should unite and stand up fi we rights,and from the $50 MILLION investment from we Social Security FUNDS to BTL we Belizeans are not benefiting at all only net vasques,anwar barrow,dean barrow,lois young barrow, & other cronies are benifiting from fi we FUNDS’ this cannot continue like this.’

Leave a Reply

CAPTCHA Image
*