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Apr 20, 2021

P.S.U. Marches on Albert Street at High Noon

The Public Service Union continued its activism today with members picketing various locations across the country, including service stations down south in Stann Creek District.  They were joined in some municipalities by the Belize National Teachers Union, with whom they are allied, as part of a multilateral body that has been in discussion with the Government of Belize over a pending salary reduction.  The oppressive midday heat did little to deter them from taking to the streets of the Old Capital in protest.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano was downtown and caught up with the P.S.U. as they marched in solidarity against government.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

At midday, a handful of public officers descended on downtown Belize City where they marched along Albert Street as part of a series of planned activities voicing their discontent with the Briceño administration.  Those public officers are in a trade dispute with the government over a pending salary adjustment that will see their income being reduced.  The wage cut which was introduced in the 2021 budget will remain in effect for the next three years and it is being met with hostility by the joint unions.


Gail Garcia

Gail Garcia, Branch Chair, Public Service Union

“The message being sent is that we don’t support government’s proposal for ten percent salary cut and increment freeze for three years.”


During the twenty-one day period following notice being served on GOB, the Public Service Union will continue to send a clear message that it is not happy with the manner in which government is going about the situation.  While savings need to be realized in order for the economy to return to a proper footing, teachers and public officers are opposed to the idea that it should come at their expense.


Dean Flowers

Dean Flowers, Vice President, Public Service Union

“We have served notice through the Minister of Labor that at the expiration of twenty-one days we will proceed to industrial action, we are already engaged in industrial action.  At the end of twenty-one days we will proceed to strike and nationally.  We are being very careful, we are being very patient.  The different associations have come out supporting the joint unions and so government is being warned, notwithstanding the Minister of Labor has abdicated his responsibility to put together the labor dispute tribunal.  He has said that the Minister of Public Service will proceed as he sees fit, and so he doesn’t see any sense in him putting together that dispute tribunal.”


In Dangriga this afternoon, teachers joined forces with public officers to picket gas stations.  Aside from the salary reductions, the cost of living, including the mounting cost of fuel, is exorbitant.


Gail Garcia

“Our intended audience is the general public and the government in this activity this afternoon, and yes, we’re doing this jointly, each union coming together to send the government a loud message that we’re not supporting the salary cuts.”


To make matters worse, despite the fact that the unions and government are at odds, the Minister of Labor Oscar Requena has reportedly neglected his duty to convene a dispute tribunal.  According to the PSU’s first vice president, should the situation reach a crisis the government will be blameworthy.


Dean Flowers

“If things come to a head to head and we buck for the worst, that’s on them.  We exercise the law, we will stick within the confines of the law but our rights where our rights to property is concerned will not be violated, not by this administration and not by a future administration.”


That position is staunchly supported by the membership of the unions and they are prepared to go the length where the dispute is concerned.


Gail Garcia

“Wah hundred and fifty percent.”



“Until the government backs down…”


Gail Garcia

“Wah hundred and fifty percent.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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