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May 6, 2021

PM on Union Negotiations: Government Must Continue to Function

John Briceño

Prime Minster John Briceño also spoke out today, courtesy of the Government Press Office, on the ongoing negotiations between the unions and G.O.B. representatives.  PM Briceño, who is not in the negotiation room with the unions, says he does get updates on what transpires in those meetings.  He expressed disappointment with what he deems to be “wavering commitments” from the unions.  He also spoke about the government’s responsibility to ensure that the country continues to function during strike actions.


Prime Minister John Briceño

“What I find quite pleasing is that the meetings are quite cordial, they are very respectful. Everybody they are putting out their different perspectives as to what it is they wish. Our disappointment is that when we finish the meetings we feel we have an agreement, but whenever they go to the membership, or at least the groups that participates in the meeting, are probably the want that are more worked up and not wanting to settle for what they have been asking and we have been giving to. So that part is disappointing. But as I’ve said, we do respect the unions; we do support their right to work. But at the same time as the government we have a responsibility to the rest of the nation to ensure that the country continues to work, that the schools are working, that here can be teachers teaching our children, that the hospitals are working, that there are doctors and nurses available. These are services that are critical to the development of the country any country. We have not only a legal but a moral responsibility to ensure we continue to offer these services to the Belizean people.”



“What are your thoughts on the days ahead as the strike continues, and the impact to the economy and the country?”


Prime Minister John Briceño

“Well fortunately, it seems that it is not having a major impact. I believe that generally Belizeans understand what we are doing. Belizeans understand that we are not acting out of malice. Belizeans understand that there is a financial crisis. Belizeans understand that many of them, in fact, thousand of them lost their jobs. Unfortunately, the public service, including the teachers, kept their jobs. They have been getting their salaries. But it has gotten to a point where we just do not have the money. We wish we could be paying them and giving them even more. And helping all of those that do not have a job. But the truth is we do not have the money. For the past two years, Mr. Barrow and the U.D.P. borrowed over seven hundred million dollars to pay salaries, to pay the light bill, electricity and rent. We can’t continue doing that. With this new financial year, with the tightening of our belt, and just spending monies where we really need to spend in education and health. But will all of that, the ten percent cut that we have already done, because the budget has already been passed, we are still short of almost one hundred million dollars to pay salaries. So we are still not collecting enough to be able to pay salaries. And that is what we are trying to tell the Unions, we do not have it and we cannot continue to print money. If we continue to print money, we could have hyper deflation and even a devaluation. We will not allow that to happen. A P.U.P. Government will not allow that to happen. We will do everything to protect the Belizean dollars.”

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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