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May 7, 2021

Government Makes New Proposals; Unions Cautiously Optimistic

The Joint Unions Negotiating Team may now be seeing some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel in their fight for good governance.  News Five has confirmed that during Thursday’s negotiation meeting, G.O.B.’s team presented three drafts of good governance legislation.  Although government had initially indicated that it would take at least three months to prepare and present these drafts, it appears the process has been expedited.  Union leaders are now taking back to their membership a draft of whistleblowers’ legislation, a draft of asset recovery legislation, and a draft campaign financing legislation.  There is also a proposed promissory note with possible interest to make up for the proposed salary cuts.  Union leaders are being optimistically cautious moving forward. News Five’s Paul Lopez joined the unions through the streets of Belize City today. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

After Thursday’s heated meeting inside the House of Culture, the Unions organized themselves to execute one of their largest marches to date. The Belize Progressive Teachers Union and the Christian Workers Union joined today’s protest, adding to the swelling numbers.


Evan “Mose” Hyde

Evan “Mose” Hyde Jr., President, C.W.U.

“A little less than a year ago in the pandemic we took a position in the Port of rejecting ten percent on behalf of the staff at P.B.L., which resulted in the infamous incident of tear gas and rubber bullets. If you go back to the footage, you will see that the president of the Belize National Teachers Union was out there, did not run, did not step away, and in fact stood in solidarity with our members there. That is real, you feel me? So, we have to figure out how to be there for each other, that is what unionism by it definition means.”


From the Memorial Park in Belize City, onto Bel-China Bridge, and back to Memorial Park, protestors marched for approximately two hours, even in the rain. Part of the reason for today’s protest march was a leaked memo addressed to Belize Branch teachers. It notes that the Government of Belize presented three good governance draft legislations to union leaders during Thursday’s meeting. The unions want to keep up the pressure until these are hammered out.


Gerald Henry

Gerald Henry, President, P.S.U.

“They came with two, they presented to us two already. A third one should be on the way as far as I am aware. I am not certain exactly when that will be presented to us. But we will be looking over that legislation. We have our legal people already. I had a review of one of them done by my personal lawyer already. And so, we are going to share those legislation with our general membership for them to see as well. They may have their own personal lawyers that they may want to look at it. We have the whistle blowers, that was presented. We also had the asset recovery that was presented. The one that is outstanding is the campaign financing legislation. We hope that by next week that should be presented to us. It’s set for Monday or there about.”


Elena Smith

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

“Yes, we have received a second draft now, so we have two drafts now, and one to go.”


Paul Lopez

“So, you are awaiting a third?”


Senator Elena Smith

“Correct.  The good governance, we have already informed them of that at our last meeting, so they are aware of that. Our council met last night, and they are aware of those proposals as well.”


The Government of Belize also proposed a promissory note for public servants and teachers, equivalent to the ten percent pay cut, with the possibility of interest. The P.S.U. is concerned  the promissory note will only take effect after three years, while public servants are demanding immediate savings.


Gerald Henry

“As regards to the second one with the promissory note and the other things, the membership is still adamant that they do not want the ten percent. It’s more an issue of not wanting the ten percent. And I honestly believe that if the government could look not recommendations. I make and I keep making the same recommendations over and over. The government is in control of utilities. If they can cut the utilities for us as public officers, let us say the cut the water bill, two percent, electricity two percent, butane they lower the price of butane three percent, if they do those things and make sure the prices of goods in grocery stores are controlled and minimized, because they go up every week for no reason at all except to make the merchants richer. If they could do those things like that and control prices in Belize, we would not feel the impact of the ten percent.”


Senator Elena Smith

“The only thing that we need to take back to our membership now is the matter of the promissory note that we now have more details on that we can share with our members.  A promissory note is something you will get in the future. It is not for now and we understand that. It is something that could be used when things get better. So, if it is that our members accept that then we will be able to present that to them.”


Additionally, President of the Belize National Teachers Union Elena Smith confirmed that Joint Union leaders received a commitment from government that the salaries of protestors will not be cutfor their time spent protesting.


Senator Elena Smith

“We put that on the table; that must be a part of good faith. Because if it is that we are working in good faith and you want us to look at your proposals and step back from the strike then you must give us something as well, so that was put on the table.”


Paul Lopez

“And was that commitment made by the government?”


Senator Elena Smith



The negotiating teams go back to the table on Thursday May thirteenth. 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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