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Aug 23, 2021

Striking Nurses Owed 3 Months in Overtime

Darrell Spencer

And while we have another COVID cluster detected in Caye Caulker, the nurses at the Central Health Region’s lab remain on regular hours as they feel they deserve to be paid the overtime for hours they worked for the past three months. President of the Belize Nurses’ Association, Darrell Spencer told News Five this evening that the nurses were short-staffed and overworked even before COVID, so to cut their hours as a part of the ten percent cut for public officers is just adding to the problem.


Darrell Spencer, President, Nurses Association of Belize

“Last week I know the medical technologist basically, they came out saying that if the government refuses to pay overtime and we have to say they are not paying overtime because now it’s June, July and now August. The Government passed a mandate to cut salaries; they have made arrangements for adjustment to the hours of work, but apparently nobody in the Ministry of Finance there thought through the process of how the overtime would look and what does the officer need to get these overtime after they have worked for them. So, for the past three months the overtime has been going back and forth between the worker and the staff are now frustrated. So they haven’t gotten their overtime payments for June nor July, it is my understanding that they were to be paid at the end of August, but just last week they were informed that they are not even going to be paid by the end of August. So this is why the staff has said well ok, no problem, if you cannot afford to pay the overtime we just won’t do the hours.  The Ministry hands down to the administrators and the regional managers and all these people come bearing down on the staff. They want to get the service up and running, but nobody is saying okay, you will definitely be paid the first of September, the seventh of September. There is no definite date being given to the personnel, but the people are like “Oh well you guys need to figure out to run the department – the shifts but you have to provide coverage. How can we provide coverage when we are short.  If at forty hours a week we were having problems covering without overtime, when you cut down that forty hours in a half-baked attempt to appease the workers, when you cut down on those hours to thirty-five hours, obviously if you were already short at forty, how could thirty-five be a better coverage? I just mentioned last week – over the weekend – that the sensible thing for the Government to have done was to say, look, this ten percent cut will not work for us. It won’t work for the workers; it won’t work for the Government because if you cut salaries and you cut hours then obviously the amount of overtime will rise. This is a department that is short before corona.”

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