By Marion Ali
Singing the popular union song, “We Shall Not Be Moved”, and chanting the words: “equal treatment, equal pay”, close to 100 teachers and staff members of the University of Belize (UB) Belmopan campus protested on campus last Friday. They have been demanding a 14 percent salary increase.
The protest is a prelude to a bigger, more organised show of strength, comprising four of the institution’s campuses countrywide, which is set to begin at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, October 9. It also follows a meeting on Tuesday of this week between UB President Allan Slusher and the recently formed Faculty and Staff Association, which is leading the fight for the salary increase.
During that meeting, the Reporter understands, Slusher expressed a willingness on the part the UB management to entertain a five percent salary increase, which the faculty and staff flatly reject. Slusher indicated, that the management could not give a definitive response on the 14 percent increase, reports say.
This week’s events followed a meeting last Wednesday at the UB campus, which included 250 of the 450 faculty and staff members of UB throughout the country.
One of the main movers behind the request for a 14 percent raise told the Reporter that their demand has nothing to do with general elections being so close. The source said that discussions for the salary adjustment had been initiated since June of this year and that UB does not have to approach any government to offer its faculty and staff a raise, since it has sufficient funds in its coffers, and since the faculty and staff have made conscious strides to cut down on expenses – a collective effort which has saved the institution $1.8 million, according to oone source.
UB teachers and staff have not received a salary increase for the past ten years, they claim, even when other teachers and public officers have received increases under the current government.