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What has Government conceded to trade unions?

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Posted: Thursday, May 20, 2021. 10:18 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Government of Belize, through the office of the Prime Minister, has enumerated various clarifications requested by the Joint Unions on its letter of undertakings released last week.

Minister of Education Francis Fonseca, a member of Belmopan’s negotiating team, confirmed that a follow-up letter is in the process of being sent to the unions.

On the matter of the reduction of the workweek by five hours, Fonseca told reporters, “the prime minister in his letter of clarification pointed out that yes, the government was still prepared to accommodate the joint unions and allow for a work week which requires five hours less work on the part of public officers and teachers.”

Public Service Union (PSU) President Gerald Henry had said that based on his own research, it would save the Government some money to begin the workday an hour later or end it an hour earlier to reduce utility costs.

Next, said Fonseca, “They had also asked about the appointment of a member of the N.T.U.C.B. to the board of the National Bank.  Again, the letter submitted yesterday, or perhaps it was sent this morning, clarified and said yes, the government agrees to appointing a member of the N.T.U.C.B., a representative of the N.T.U.C.B. to National Bank.”  

Also clarified was whether or not the forbearance period that the prime minister had negotiated with the Central Bank of Belize, whether that extended beyond residential mortgages and applied to all mortgages, and again that was clarified in [Government’s] letter today, saying yes, that in fact it was not limited to residential mortgages but applied to all mortgages.

Where Government has not specifically conceded is the matter of the salary cut and increment freeze, as the haggling is now over how best to compensate public officers and teachers when the economy returns to full power.

No date has been set for a face-to-face sit-down as industrial action continues.

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