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Minister of Home Affairs says Unions playing politics with salary cuts

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Posted: Friday, April 9, 2021. 9:01 am CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa, keeping with a new stance taken by the People’s United Party (PUP) to go on the offensive against the joint union negotiating team, suggested that the union’s leaders are refusing to accept the government’s proposed 10 percent salary cut for teachers and public officers for political reasons.

Musa’s comments follow the release of three political ads being aired on all local media houses, which stress that the unions do not care about Belize and are selfishly refusing the salary cuts despite the harm it will do to the economy and despite the fact that Ministers and CEOs have agreed to further 15 percent salary cuts and a 50 percent cut in allowances.

Musa said that the pressure is on them to refuse the salary cuts because the union leaders have pending elections coming up in their respective unions.

“I empathize with union leaders because how do you go back to your members and deliver the news that you will have to take a 10 percent pay cut? Nobody wants to do that, even worse months away from an election.”

He emphasized that government approached the unions in good faith and agreed to most of their demands, however, politics seems to be the root cause of the ongoing fallout.

“It just seems as though there is a political game afoot. If we are to be real, we can look at the different union heads and we can see their political affiliation comes from in terms of knowing which party that they support,” Musa added.

He went on to say that the government has considered the plight of Belizeans, which lead them to propose a salary cut, rather than retrenchment as was recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Belize National Teacher’s Union President Elena Smith has publicly condemned the approach taken by the government in negotiations, stressing that they could not have operated in good faith when the budget was prepared before negotiations had concluded and already accounted for the 10 percent salary cut.

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