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May 15, 2020

PM Says “Forego;” Unions Say “Defer”

Elena Smith

There is still no deal between the Belize National Teachers Union, the Public Service Union and the Government of Belize and at news time, the unions are preparing to respond to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, and Financial Secretary Joseph Waight.  On Wednesday, it seemed that the parties had agreed on the way forward but on Thursday, the word forgo in the agreement did not meant the approval of the unions which want to replace that with the word defer in respect of the increments that form a part of the  posed cost saving measures. The union’s final position is to reach the PM on Monday. The Barrow administration is proposing that the public sector and teachers forego salary increments for fiscal year 2020 to 2021, until retirement, after which the amount will be worked into their pension. The unions, however, want to defer their increments to a certain time, but Prime Minister Barrow is not budging. During a press conference on Thursday, the Prime Minister said that he believed that an agreement had been reached at the end of the meeting. National President of the B.N.T.U., Senator Elena Smith told News Five that while there was a verbal discussion, there was no written agreement.


Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“In the meeting we had those verbal discussions. There was no document prepared before the end of the meeting to say this is what we have and this is what it will look like. We were informed of what areas will be acceptable and what areas they will not accept. We were informed that they will be ding the wording of what we had agreed to in the meeting and they would be sending that to us within the hour of the meeting after the meeting was finished. That was sent indeed within an hour but it wasn’t in that meeting itself that the wording was placed and read to us or given to us or shown to us while we were in the meeting. But the parameters if you will were agreed to what were discussed and present to us in the meeting. We had initially sad that yes we agreed to those but we had to see the wording of the document to ensure the wording matched what we agreed to the meeting.”


Hipolito Novelo

“Was the word forego was agreed during the verbal discussion?”


Elena Smith

“Well there was some back and forth. I don’t want to get into all of the details because as we said we want to get our members first and we want to inform them of that and so we have agreed we will not be doing so until we reach our members. But there was discussion in the meeting with the words defer and forego. So we did have those discussions in the meeting.”

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