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Unions say no ease discussed for health care workers

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Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2021. 8:03 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The joint unions and National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) are rebuking Minister of Health and Wellness, Michel Chebat, for a statement he made during Wednesday night’s news that threatens to cause havoc among the trade union movement and is an example, they say, of Ministers who are not part of the negotiations making “reckless statements” which make the negotiations more delicate.

Minister Chebat said, “Part of the initial oral discussion with the unions – now, I’m not a part of that negotiating team. Please, I want to make that clear. But, part of the discussions in the initial phase was to exclude the healthcare workers from the 10% cut. However, it is my understanding that this proposal was rejected by the unions.” (Emphasis ours)

But the unions say, not so!

“I want to speak to the fact that at no point in time – there was never ever an offer on the table, a proposal, that in fact nurses and frontline workers were to be exempted – that never came to us. So that, for that statement to have been made by the Minister of Health and Wellness, only God knows where he got it from, because we could not reject something that never came to us; it never came to us,” emphasized president of the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM) Sharon Frazer in a press briefing this afternoon.

She added that she raised the issue at today’s meeting and the Ministerial team confirmed that no such offer is or ever was on the table.

We asked NTUCB President Luke Martinez if perhaps the Minister was wishing it into existence, praying it would be so.

Martinez responded that it was a matter of credibility: “Every time that you are irresponsible with what you are saying, you are discrediting yourself.” He added that the Minister should publicly apologize for his remarks and “reckless behavior”. He made note that if such an offer had been on the table, it would have been “headline news” and lamented that none of the press interviewing him called him out on this matter.

The Nurses’ Association of Belize (NAB) recently joined the NTUCB; neither the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital Authority Workers’ Union (KHMHWU) or the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA) are members of the umbrella organization.

The Nurses Association, on the eve of Nurses Week, has organized a go-slow in which minimal service is given in clinics and hospitals.

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