Belize City, Thurs. Jan 31, 2013.
Jose Castellanos, the newly elected president of the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (A.P.S.S.M.) and the unions’ numbers guru, has resigned from the negotiating team on Thursday.
Details about Castellanos’ resignation has been hard to come by, because he has apparently chosen to become a recluse; however, a source from his union would only say off the record that a close colleague has seen Castellanos’ letter to Prime Minister Barrow.
The source also told The Reporter that Castellanos, who is employed in the Agricultural Department as a policy analyst, was apparently coming under pressure from his employer: the Government of Belize.
The three trade unions, the Public Service Union, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the APSSM has been deadlocked in negotiations with the government over a salary adjustment.
The deadlock position prompted a day of national protest in Belmopan on Tuesday. Led by the BNTU, about 3000 protesters converged on Belmopan for a rally in front of the National Assembly building.
Castellanos’ resignation from the unions’ negotiating team would appear to be a hard blow to the unions that are going into a meeting with Prime Minister Barrow tomorrow in his Belmopan office.
As an economist, Castellanos’ importance to the other two unions in tomorrow’s meeting with the Prime Minister would have been crucial.
It remains to be seen how the unions will rebound from this apparent setback, since government is adamant that it cannot afford the 30 percent salary adjustment that the unions are seeking.
Castellanos has been making the case, based upon government figures, that they can afford the salary adjustment.
While Castellanos has reportedly left the negotiating table, he has not resigned as the president of the APSSM.