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Will Teachers’ Union join public servants’ opposition to cost-saving measures?

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Posted: Saturday, May 9, 2020. 2:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: $17 million in proposed cost-saving measures by the Government of Belize as it battles the economic toll of COVID-19 have largely been rejected as not far-reaching enough, according to the Public Service Union (PSU).

While Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow has gone on record to promise that neither salaries nor jobs will be cut in the near future, he has also put pressure on the PSU to “make sacrifices” as the rest of the country has done and is continuing to do.

But what about the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU)? The famously bellicose group has taken to the streets and effectively closed most schools for 11 days in October of 2016 over similar economic and social issues, and it has been active in the recent push by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) to further install an anti-corruption regime.

But as revealed by our colleagues at KREM News, they too have been written by Financial Secretary Joseph Waight to accept the proposed cost-saving measures or face having their increments frozen by statutory instrument.

The BNTU has made no public comment but its president, Senator Elena Smith, said during the last meeting of the Senate that there is no time for grandstanding or mercenary politics: “As Belizeans going through this pandemic and looking at ways in which we can deal and we can address this situation should have nothing to do with politics right now. This is not about red or blue because COVID does not look at colour or political affiliation. … This is not a time to be grandstanding right now. It is a time to be collaborating for us to see what we can contribute to the entire pool to help this process to make it a little bit easier.”

The sister unions have met, according to PSU first vice-president Dean Flowers, and are in dialogue as they fight this situation together.

 

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