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Apr 14, 2021

Nurses Association of Belize Ready for Industrial Action If….

…and the teachers are not alone. Today, the Nurses Association of Belize told G.O.B. its members stand ready to support joint unions’ position on government’s salary cuts and other cost cutting measures.  In fact, they have been poised and ready to respond before the budget was presented on Friday.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco has more on the decision by this key group of healthcare professionals.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

After the Nurses Association of Belize polled its members, a whopping ninety-nine percent of nurses are against a salary cut and almost ninety five percent say that they will take industrial action if the government impasse with the unions is not resolved.

 

Darrell Spencer

Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses Association of Belize

“This is to align the people – to realize that nurses are tired of it all and we are tired of what is happening in the country. So, we want to make it known that we align ourselves with the joint unions and we stand ready to move whenever we need to.  The poll included members and non-members and I will tell you the respondents – we are in the ninety percent and up of persons ready to stand by or stand down whatever the call is with the unions.”

 

The P.S.U. has served the Government of Belize its notice of industrial action and the B.N.T.U.’s poll has shown that they are also in support of a strike. But for an essential service like healthcare the line is not so clear cut for a strike, although there is room for more passive actions like a go slow. Regardless of what steps the nurses association takes next – one thing is clear – industrial action is a strong position and unprecedented in recent times and President Darrell Spencer says it is long overdue.

 

Darrell Spencer

“We must be careful and mindful that nurses and strike are two words that shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Speaking that we will participate in whatever industrial action necessary that doesn’t cause a loss of life and risk patients’ lives.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How do you take all of this that is happening in the context of the essential service that you guys provide?”

 

Darrell Spencer

“Alright – this is a just question – essential services are saying that we must provide some service; what service is the question. As a professional and citizen of the country, I know that we can all agree that there are some services that are directly life saving services and then are those the services that if push come to shove those services that the nurses stand in a position not to have to render. Nurses provide a lot of non-nursing procedures where in a work to rule situation or a go slow situation we can legally and rightfully offer no more. The department is totally short in many other areas in health and unfortunately for the nurses and for the country of Belize nurses have always filled those gaps.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How recent has a decision like this been taken where we see the nurses come out and say we are in support of the unions and we’ll go the length of where they would take this matter?”

 

Darrell Spencer

“I have been in nursing for thirty years and over that time we have supported the association has supported the P.S.U., B.N.T.U., from time to time. We have voiced our support and this as far as I recall is the first time the nurses association has uttered to the degree of direct industrial action on behalf of the nurses against any government at all.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How big is this for the nurses to come out and say this is our position?”

 

Darrell Spencer

“It is big as the problem we are facing in the country. I personally believe this should have happened a long time ago but we are not going to cry going over what should have happened. The best time to do it is today.”

 

But the Belize Nursing Association says that members recognize that some measures must be implemented and in their poll some sixty percent support an increment freeze of up to two years maximum.

 

Darrell Spencer

“The support for the increment freeze comes from the same survey that we did. So, nurses were told and at most some nurses have agreed, towards sixty percent have agreed, I think thirty-three or thirty-four percent agreed to only one year and another twenty something for about two years which numbers about sixty percent have agreed to at worst sixty percent agreed to an increment freeze of not more than two years.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

In a press release issued today, the Belize Nurses Association calls on the government to implement the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to curb the abuse and exploitation of resources; as well as implement cost saving measures such as cutting allowances of ministers and senior executive; hold off on unnecessary hiring; and restrict use of resources such as vehicles.


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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