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May 6, 2021

Tensions Rise in Union and G.O.B. Meeting

The Joint Unions Negotiating Team and the Government of Belize met today for day-two of discussions inside the House of Culture in Belize City.  It was expected that the meeting would run into the evening because nine of the eleven points put forward by the unions were yet to be discussed.  But today, those points were not even raised and the meeting came to an end by two p.m.  So what transpired? New Five’s Paul Lopez was with the unions throughout the day and he files the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

At around nine-fifty this morning, President of the Public Service Union Gerald Henry and first Vice President Dean Flowers made their way onto the compound of the House of Culture in Belize City. A few minutes later, both Flowers and Henry would exit the compound on foot to greet union members who were picketing at the gate. That is where we had our first conversation with President Henry about the expectations for today’s meeting.


Paul Lopez

“There are grumbling that a resolution is being reached at, or you are approaching reaching a resolution. Is that the case?”


Gerald Henry, President, P.S.U.

“I would not be that optimistic, although I told you the last time that my blood type is B positive. But you now, we are still hopeful that they can be some medium ground that will be met. We just must wait and see how it will go. Today we will be sharing what our responses are from both consultations that the two sides have been having and we will go from there.”


Paul Lopez

“How long do you expect today’s meeting to last?”


Gerald Henry

Gerald Henry

“Really and truly, to be realistic I honestly think that we will be going late again. Honestly, we only managed to reach to two points. But we will see you know, we will see. Hopefully, we could accomplish something solid today.”


Paul Lopez

“So, you are trying to cover all eleven points in these meetings.”


Gerald Henry

“Yeah so, we have nine left.”


But those remaining nine points were not discussed today. In fact, by twelve thirty midday the press was being informed that union reps were preparing to walk out the meeting and that an impromptu press conference would be held on Yarbrough green. But it was not until two p.m., two hours later, that those union leaders arrived. After a brief meeting with those members that were present, we learnt of what transpired inside the meeting.


Dean Flowers

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

“We have served the public service notice that we will take legal action where our people are being victimized. And, because of the victimization that is happening with termination and transfers, the talks this morning almost broke down and that is why we did not get far. And I want to be clear on that. The talks this morning almost broke down, because of the nonsense that was on tv last night whereby people were being threatened. I am pleased to report that under the good leadership of the three ministers there today we were able to get their commitment that the victimization stops, and it stops now…”


Sharon Frazer

Sharon Frazer, President, A.P.S.S.M.

“I want to speak to the fact that at no point in time was there ever an offer on the table, a proposal, that in fact nurses, frontline workers, were to be exempted, that never came to us. So for that statement to have been made by the minister of health and wellness, only God knows where he got it from, because we could not have rejected anything that never came to us. I know I asked that question today to the ministerial team, please tell me If I fell asleep in one of our meetings when you made that offer. And they confirmed to me that offer never came to the table.”


Luke Martinez

Luke Martinez, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“Members of parliament, these ministers, the minister of health and wellness should have never ever said something like that. His words are destroying or causing to destroy something as wonderful as the labor movement in this country. He does not have a clue obviously of the discussions happening within the confines of the House of Culture between the Union and budget team from the government side. What he needs to do is too come back to the press, to you all, and make a public apology to the press, to you all. The nurse’s association is a new member, a new affiliate to the National Trade Union Congress. So, when you say something like that, right away you cause this new organization, this new member to want to start to double think about their decision to join us.”


While things got heated during today’s meetings over reports of victimization, and alleged erroneous public statements from parliamentarians, today’s meeting ended with the Joint Unions sticking to their guns where the 10% salary cut is concerned.


Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“For now what we did today was to insist on our membership’s position that they are not in agreement with the salary cut. That was clearly put to the table. They are aware of that. We ended the meeting at that point. They are going back to have their discussions and we will see.”


Sharon Frazer

“Government made some new proposal. Of course, it is kind of hard to speak to that because we need to speak to our members before in fact, we can share that. But there are new proposals on the table. But until it is our members say, yes, yay or nay it will not be fair to speak to that without getting to them first.”


Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez.

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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