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Jul 3, 2020

UB Faculty & Staff Union: Industrial Action Imminent at National University

The situation at the University of Belize continues to deteriorate and is reaching boiling point. Tonight, U.B.’s Faculty and Staff Union is threatening industrial action if the University continues to exclude them in determining how U.B. will pull out of the financial crisis. Government has drastically cut the subvention, so UB finds itself unable to carry out programmes and on the verge of reducing staff as part of cost cutting measures.  At a press conference today in Belmopan, union reps said they have been disrespected and sidelined and belong around the table. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The rights of the UB Faculty and Staff Union have been disregarded by the senior administration of the university and most recently on Thursday night by the Board of Trustees, which has essentially said that the union is not recognised as the certified bargaining agent for the faculty and staff at the institution. Today, the union reacted making demands and saying that if a decision is not taken by eleven a.m. on Monday, July sixth, industrial action will be taken against the university.


Pio Saqui

Dr. Pio Saqui, President, U.B.F.S.U.

“If the Board of Trustees and Administration does not recognise the University of Belize’s Faculty and Staff Union as the sole bargaining agent of the faculty and staff by Monday at eleven a.m. and being negotiations to determine a way forward then we take this opportunity to duly inform the senior administration and the Board of Trustees as mandated by our membership that industrial action is imminent.”


The lack of consultation is once again the vexing issue for the union; they were told that they are not the authorized agent, despite having met all the criteria back on January tenth of this year, as set out under the labour laws.  At the meeting, for which Doctor June Young participated only as an observer, a proposal without the input of the faculty and staff was to be presented to the Board of Trustees.


June Young

Dr. June Young, Former Faculty Rep., UB Board of Trustees

“Currently, we have no duly elected rep on the Board of Trustees. What happened, I received two emails at the ninety-ninth hour informing me that the term of office for faculty rep on the board had expired on the twenty-eighth of February, 2020 and as such I could only attend a schedule meeting which was scheduled for Thursday, yesterday, that I can only attend in the capacity of a guest or observer. It is important to note that at this meeting recommendations were to be tabled to address the declared financial exigency that was voted on by the board on the eighteenth of June 2020.”


Dr. Pio Saqui

“The tripartite body is pleased to inform you that the union has met the prescribed requirement in accordance with section twenty-seven article one and two of the Trade Union and Employer Organization Registration, Recognition and Status Act Chapter 304. As such, this is very important; the tripartite body is inviting you to acknowledge the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Union as the certified and sole bargaining agent for the faculty and staff of the University of Belize.”


That meeting was pushed back a week, to July tenth. Union President, Pio Saqui says that cost cutting procedures cannot happen without full disclosure of the financial records of the institution. The union says the pains are to be shared equitably when considering those who make five hundred dollars. He believes that all options must be placed on the table before anyone is sacrificed.


Christopher Deshield

Dr. Christopher Deshield, Secretary, U.B.F.S.U.

“The dissatisfaction with that process was to do with how inscrutable it was. We don’t know what we were answering in these kinds of questions and how are they organized, which questions are presented and which are not. Who is allowed to make suggestions and recommendations for those bodies identified? What about other bodies? What about other individuals, administration as well? How do we know if these kinds of suggested cuts would be equitable? It would seem and there were many different proposals that were brought forth by the membership, but because we couldn’t establish an agreed upon consultative process, we had no idea what recommendations would be taken by the president. We don’t know even the results of the survey.”


Dr. Pio Saqui

“Here’s a reality. If there are no teachers in those classrooms, there is no university. If there are no teachers in the classrooms, they are no universities. So we deh online so we noh have to bother; fine. And we could get somebody else, fine.  We have done everything we can, we have answered all these challenges, we have provided all the information. We are waiting patiently. This man’s fingers sore from write so much letter. We have even weighed the stance that we will take this matter to court and we will. We are working on that right now because this is a disrespect and injustice to the people of Belize, noh just U.B.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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.

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