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Public Service Union: Trade dispute with government still ongoing, industrial action continues

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Posted: Monday, June 14, 2021. 4:20 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: The Public Service Union (PSU) says that its trade dispute with the Government of Belize (GOB) has not been resolved and that its members continue to engage in industrial action within the ambit of the law.

“We are not currently engaged in mass mobilization of membership or strike action, but strike action remains an option for us,” explained PSU President Dean Flowers. “We continue to engage in industrial action by any legal form that our membership sees fit that includes working to rule, that includes going slow. That includes refusing to work overtime if they so choose and that also includes the right to engage in strike action whenever we see the need to call our members to once again mobilize.”

Flowers said that there are two major factors keeping the dispute alive. The first is that GOB has not given public officers “fair and adequate” compensation in exchange for the 10 percent salary cut and three-year increment freeze. The second relates to the demands for good governance reforms, where the legislations being tabled by GOB are not fit for their intended purpose.

Using the example of the Protective Disclosure Bill, also known as the Whistleblower Act, Flowers notes that there is no clear provision for the protection of whistleblowers, or how the information obtained from whistleblowers will be handled.

“So we want to make sure that apart from having a piece of legislation that the law also provides and makes it mandatory for certain oversight entities to be obligated and held criminally liable if it is they do not act,” Flowers said. “But there also must be the availability of the resources both from a human and a financial perspective for these institutions to be able to effectively carry out investigations and ascertain if it is that there are areas of corruption that exist and that these individuals who are involved are held accountable.”

Flowers noted that GOB has not had any communication with the unions since the release of its final offer back in May, with regards to compensation for the salary cuts and increment freeze. He stressed that until the two points of contention are satisfactorily addressed, the dispute will remain.

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