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Public Service Union begins first-stage of industrial action

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2021. 8:32 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: The Public Service Union has begun its first stage of industrial action against the Government of Belize over a decision to cut the salaries of teaches and public officers by 10 percent.

The PSU said that it officially served GOB notice of industrial action today, and will be instituting a “work to rule” campaign. This form of industrial action is geared towards reducing efficiency of government departments, by workers doing only what is required of them contractually without taking on any additional tasks which would be necessary on a regular day due to a lack of manpower or resources within the public service.

The PSU said that industrial action became necessary, as GOB went after salaries without instituting much-needed regulator and policy reforms geared towards good governance, which would ensure that public funds are not wasted.

“In the best interest of the country, at worst, the Government actions should have been geared towards reducing the wage premium currently being paid to Ministers, CEO’s, redundant contract officers, rehired-retired contract officers and other senior government officials, including the removing of distortionary allowances and immediately addressing public sector reform,” PSU said.

The PSU said that the country needs: the expedited enactment of a Whistle-Blowers act, the enactment of a criminal unjust enrichment law with provisions for asset recovery, the fast-tracking of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), the strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act to give citizens the right to ask any public sector Ministry or organization for all the recorded information it has on any subject; the depoliticizing of the Public Service Commission and the Labor Complaints Tribunal, the removal of Ministerial discretion within government, strengthening of the Director of Public Prosecution’s office and the Integrity Commission among several other things, and not the reduction of public workers’ salaries.

“At a time when the country needs competent, mature and responsible leadership, we get more of the same coming out of Government. The people voted for a government for all, but instead they got a government only for the “talented”. The people voted so that todos ganamos, but instead solo los pobres pagamos (only the poor pay),” the PSU added.

The PSU is one of four union bodies that form the Joint Union Negotiating Team (JUNT) which was in negotiations with GOB over cost-cutting measures for the public sector. Other unions have yet to make public announcements on what actions will be taken in light of GOB’s decision to proceed with the salary cuts.

 

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