By Benjamin Flowers: A report compiled for the Department of Education has revealed that almost 90 percent of teachers and public officers are concerned about paying their bills after last year’s 10 percent salary cut implemented by the Government of Belize.
The report summarized a 2021 survey conducted by the Organizational Effectiveness Research Group at Minnesota University (OREG) which polled almost 400 respondents, with a split of 49 percent working in education and 51 percent working in the public service.
The key findings of the survey were that: 90.8 percent of respondents are concerned about their financial security; 96.2 percent of respondents are worried about paying their bills because of COVID-19 and the salary cuts; and only 34.9 percent of employees are feeling optimistic.
Other key findings included the fact that 55.5 percent of the public workers “do not feel valued by their leadership,” with almost 45 percent of respondents have considered quitting the public service. Over 22 percent of respondents had actually looked for a new job. The OERG also found that 49 percent of public sector employees are suffering from a mix of stress-related health problems.
In April 2021, despite protests, and against the recommendations of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) the Briceno administration implemented the 10 percent salary cut, with some concessions following negotiations.
Those concessions included a reduction of working hours during the week and preferential treatment from the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for loans, and recommendations made to the commercial banks for preferential treatment of affected teachers and public officers.
The cut was a part of the Briceno administration’s homegrown financial plan to restore economic stability following what was described as “the dismal state of the economy and public finances,” when the administration took office.