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Jul 28, 2009

N.T.U.C.B. against amendments to Essential Services Act…

Story PictureThe National Trade Union Congress of Belize this past Monday issued its formal position in respect of a proposal to amend the Essential Services Act which would affect hundreds, if not thousands of workers providing services which by law are considered essential and ought not to be interrupted. The amendment was tabled in the House last Friday and the Union says it was “appalled at the sudden and unwarranted proposal.” But while the Union is outraged, the Minister of Housing, Michael Finnegan, told News Five also on Monday, that the train had left the union behind. And today the N.T.U.C.B. said the union will be hamstrung if the amendments are passed.

Javier Roberts, General Secretary, N.T.U.C.B.
“The unions that operate under the Essential Services Act are already limited to certain actions that they can do and by removing those actions such as sickout and go slow and those other actions that the doctors employed, will limit further the bargaining power of those unions affected.”

Jose Sanchez
“Do you believe then that that one day sick-out and the go-slow by the K.H.M.H. doctors were successful?”

Javier Roberts
“It was successful, look at it. We got a memorandum of understanding signed between both parties, we have the now appointment of a commission of inquiry and we firmly believe that it was as a result of those actions.”

Jose Sanchez
“Now let me ask you, in your release you sent yesterday. You had a very pointed statement saying that you are willing to make sure the rights that the previous leaders of the union have accomplished, you’re prepared to make sure those rights aren’t taken away. That sounds a bit like a threat. What do you mean by that?”

Javier Roberts
“It’s not a threat; it’s just our position that the rights which our past leaders and activists have struggled for should not be eroded any further because under the essential services, the rights of the unions are already limited and this would further limit the actions that they can take.”

Jose Sanchez
“If Cabinet approves the amendment to the Essential Services Act what will N.T.U.C.B. do?”

Javier Roberts
“That is a decision that that will need to be taken if and when that happens. We have so far issued that statement in our press release and we are in the process of developing our plans as to should that happen and what actions should we take.”

Jose Sanchez
“Could those plans include strikes?”

Javier Roberts
“Possibly, but that all depends on the level and whether the prime minister is willing to reconsider his position.”

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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