Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2023. 9:28 am CST.
By Breaking Belize News Staff: Retired public officers and teachers are set to protest outside the National Assembly building in Belmopan today, coinciding with the first day of the budget debate.
The demonstration is being organized by former Public Service Union (PSU) President Hubert Enriquez, who is supporting the government’s call to dismantle the Public Sector Workers’ Trust.
The trust, which controls shares in BTL, bonds in St. Catherine’s Academy and other secure investments is worth around 10 million dollars, and was set up in exchange for a wage freeze implemented by the Esquivel administration from 1995 to 1997. Many of the public sector workers from that era now want the trust dismantled so they can access their money while they are still alive.
In November 1995, public sector workers and teachers demanded no wage cuts or increment freezes from the then UDP government headed by Dr. Manuel Esquivel. However, their wages were eventually frozen, and in exchange, they were given 480,000 shares in BTL. Today, those shares and accumulated interest amount to a significant sum, which the workers hope to access soon.
The retired workers will assemble at the Belmopan Civic Centre at 9:00 am to voice their concerns and demand access to the funds. Former PSU President Hubert Enriquez has encouraged retirees to participate in the demonstration to show their support for the government’s proposal to dismantle the trust.
The protest comes at a time when the Briceno administration is grappling with budget shortfalls, a high public sector wage and pension bill and extremely high inflation rates.
As retired public officers and teachers demand access to their funds, the government faces pressure to find a solution that balances the needs of workers and the demands of the budget.
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