Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, Health, People & Places » K.H.M.H. Union Members are Choosing a New President
Nov 16, 2021

K.H.M.H. Union Members are Choosing a New President

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Workers Union is arguably the youngest labor organization to join the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, having been established a few years ago.  Three years after its first president was elected to office, the union is once again in the process of voting for a new executive.  The election comes amid rocky times at the national referral facility and a win for any of the three candidates vying for the post also means a seat on the K.H.M.H. executive.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano visited the hospital earlier and observed the process.  Here is that story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A new leader is being chosen to represent the employees of Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital as president of the K.H.M.H. Workers Union.  There are three candidates vying for the office and, over a two-day period, a few hundred ballots will be cast in their favor, but only one will emerge victorious.  Lydia Alpuche-Blake is the union’s outgoing representative.


Lydia Alpuche-Blake

Lydia Alpuche-Blake, President, K.H.M.H. Workers Union

“K.H.M.H. Workers Union came as a reality in 2015 when there were salary increases being given to the other public servants and we were not considered public servants because they said [that] we worked under a statutory body.  So twelve of us stood together in a meeting in July 2015 and decided to challenge our position.”


The Barrow administration acquiesced and that agreement later gave rise to the establishment of a labor organization within the hospital.  Since then the K.H.M.H. Workers Union has been making strides in looking after the welfare of its members.  Blake’s tenure is at an end, however, several of the objectives that were initially agreed to by the Government of Belize are yet to be fulfilled.


Lydia Alpuche-Blake

“A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in October of that year, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding and certain points in it to be achieved within three years.  And to this day, I believe, and the union believes that if those points in the MOU would have been addressed, K.H.M.H. would be in a better position today in spite of its accountability, transparency, I mean staffing… There’s a point there that we would develop our own pay scale, a legal department would have been set up, collections and billings would have been set up and organized, so it’s there.  At this point it’s no time for rebuilding or reinventing the wheel.  There is a document there that needs to reviewed.”


It is on that platform that Andrew Baird, Daniela Bodden, and Romilio Castanedas are running for office.  Their hope is that these concerns, a majority of which are yet to be fully addressed, will be taken in hand under a new mandate.


Andrew Baird

Andrew Baird, Presidential Candidate

“It’s all about looking out for the staff of Karl Heusner to ensure that we get adequate benefits for the staff, as the union president, to look at a collective bargaining agreement that we have already started, to complete that collective bargaining agreement and to start the consultative process with the staff and then negotiative process with the board and management.”


Daniela Bodden has been at the helm of the Accident & Emergency Department as her latest assignment.  Her daily experiences at the unit with other members of staff is the impetus that drives her candidacy.


Daniela Bodden

Daniela Bodden, Presidential Candidate

“Presently we have about six hundred and something members working here at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital and I have been a member of the institution for about twenty-three and some odd years and I have been very dedicated and recently, with all the events that have been happening worldwide, including this pandemic that we are facing, I have come to realize that there are issues where my staff needs our input as leaders.”


After nine years of working as a human resource officer with the hospital, Romilio Castaneda is offering himself for president.  He was with the union from the onset but stepped aside briefly because of personal differences with its leadership.  He is back once more to the lead the charge.


Romilio Castaneda

Romilio Castaneda, Presidential Candidate

“I have been in the union before and I left in June 2020 because I honestly believed that we kinda strayed away from what we were fighting for and since the time I left, personal problems with some of the union executives and I came back and I said hey, a lot of people actually asked me to come back and I’ve been listening to their cries and this is the reason why I came back.  So I know that we can move forward from where we are and at the end of the day it’s win-win, as much as the employees and the administration.”


Whoever wins the presidential election will assume a seat on the K.H.M.H. Board of Directors reserved for union representation.  This ensures that there is greater transparency and accountability at the board level going forward. 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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed