The three trade unions, the Belize National Teacher’s Union (BNTU) the Association of Public Service Senior Management (APSSM) and the Public Service Union (PSU) are scheduled to meet on Friday, April 5, with Prime Minister Dean Barrow to see if the impasse over salary adjustment can be broken.
Following a meeting with government on February 1, the government made certain proposals and the unions indicated that they would be taking those proposals to their membership for ratification. That was done and the unions came up with their own counterproposals.
But all indications are that Prime Minister Barrow has rejected the unions’ counterproposals.
President of the BNTU, Luke Palacio told the Reporter on Monday that the prime minister said he is not in agreement with some of the counter proposals that the unions submitted following their meeting on February 1.
Palacio said he does not know if theunions will attend next month’s meeting.
“If our counter proposals are not on the agenda, we will not attend,” Palacio said.
The PSU president Marvin Blades said that the unions’ counter proposals come from their membership.
“In fact the counterproposal only have three key indicators that we got from our membership.”
Blades, although he could not divulge specific details, said the membership wanted a “flooring” to be introduced into the document.
He said that the government’s proposal had too many conditions, and the membership wanted some more guarantees.
“The other element that we put into the proposal has to do with expenditure. As it stands now”, he said, “the only way that they would return to the table to discuss expenditure is if there is a natural disaster or an act of nature that would affect the proposal.
“The third element that we brought into the proposal is that the unions believe that we should be on the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) board and the Central Bank,” Blades explained.
He added that some of the problems that they had experienced in the past, such as the super bond, could be alleviated if the unions have a presence on those boards acting as watchdog.
Blades added that there will be continuous meetings with the membership of the unions between now and the April 5.
The president of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) Dylan Reneau said that in the eventuality that there is a strike, everyone will be kept informed. Asked if the NTUCB is seeking outside assistance, Reneau said that they are not doing so at this stage.
George Myvette, who is representing the APSSM in the negotiations said that his union has a membership of about 35 public service senior managers in government and that they have also received support from non-members.
Myvette said that his union has been actively keeping their members abreast of the development.
“The salary adjustment issue is priority number one for us, because the public officers have been bearing the brunt of the economic circumstances over time.
“We hope the political side of government understands the sacrifices that we have been making over time. The human resources of this country is that which will make development happen,” Myvette said.