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Hospital workers’ union to address pensions

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Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2019. 6:32 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize’s leading hospital’s labor union is challenging authorities on the issue of pensions.

The Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority (KHMHA) Workers Union, recently formed, is to meet to discuss management’s response to a memo sent on June 28.

According to the authority, following a legal survey, it has been determined that only the Government can pay pensions per the Pensions Act, to public officers who retire or are transferred. Persons hired by the Authority, a statutory board, do not qualify.

The memo continues, “The Authority cannot therefore legally pay Pension other than as is provided by the law. As such, employee retirement benefits are only payable by the Authority pursuant to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Provident Fund Trust Rules (“the Fund”) dated August 1st, 2017.”

The Union says this contradicts what they were told at a meeting in January of this year, and that no update was provided on this clarification.

It adds that at a meeting on June 5th, it was agreed by the parties that clarification on pension matters would be sought in court but instead, the KHMHA is “stopping short on another legal opinion rather than a declaration by a court of competent jurisdiction on this matter.”

The Union points to the main concern being whether they are “pensionable by virtue of the KHMHA Act through the provisions of the Pensions Act.” It counters that the KHMHA Act does not provide for a replacement of the Government’s pension scheme with the current Provident Fund but rather, the KHMHA Act provides for a pension plan to supplement the Fund.

Neither side is commenting pending their next moves.

 

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