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Aug 19, 2020

P.S.U. Rejects Amendment to Labour Law

First, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, which is the umbrella organization for the unions, and now the Public Service Union is lodging its discontent with the amendment to the Labour Law, which was debated and passed in the Senate this afternoon.  The P.S.U. issued a statement on Tuesday concerned that the consultative process was never undertaken.  In their view, the amendment provides protection to private sector employers from possible lawsuits by employees who may become redundant due to the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but does not protect employees.  Now, G.O.B. is the largest employer in the country and while the government says it will not touch salaries of public officers, there is still unease at the P.S.U.  First Vice President Dean Flowers says that the union rejects the law.


Dean Flowers

Dean Flowers, 1st Vice President, P.S.U.

“I wouldn’t be able to answer for the government in terms of why the need and the urgency to pass the law if it was primarily to answer the cry and the demand and call from the private sector, being the B.C.C.I., or if it was for the government to be able to manoeuvre and negotiate their way out of this high wage bill they are currently faced with where public servants are concerned. So I don’t know if it is a direct move to help them in their negotiation going forward or if in fact it is as a result of the demands being placed upon them by the B.C.C.I. to address their own wage bill. As it relates to any cut in salaries or any authority that the bill purports to give employers, I think from a public service union standpoint, we believe to a certain degree on the face of it, public officers, while could be affected are in fact to a certain degree are protected by our collective bargaining agreement. So while the substantive law is being amended, we believe that the impact that it will have on the regular workers out there in the private sector could be a bit different from the approach taken government towards public officers if it is that they would like to go that route which the bill allows employers to now go. But we have a CBA in place and we believe that any move that would impact our terms and conditions that CBA would serve as a buffer or a safeguard for negotiations on how those austerity measures would be implemented by government.”

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