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NICH lays off Staff #543001
06/17/20 05:09 AM
06/17/20 05:09 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Twelve men and women were sent home from the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) after the organization could no longer meet their salaries. It is another fallout due to Covid-19 and according to a source the move has come as a last resort. Love News understands that several austerity measures were taken to reduce expenditure since March 2020. However, with a cut in their subvention from the Government and with a drastic decrease in other revenues, NICH has had to resort to cutting its staff by six percent. The organization is dependent primarily from the archaeological sites around the country coupled with some assistance from the Government. We understand that NICH will be issuing a release on this move shortly. We will keep you updated.

LoveFM

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No Tourism Revenue, NICH Forced To Make Layoffs

As June ends, the financial crunch is really starting to bite, and this is apparent at NICH, the National Institute of Culture and History where layoffs have commenced. 7News has confirmed that NICH yesterday paid off and sent home 12 persons, including three senior managers from the Institute of Creative Arts. A late evening release from NICH says, quote "The Board of Directors and Management of NICH have been forced to make this decision of separating with approximately 6% of our entire staff…"
The release explains that Government has cut NICH's subvention by about half. Add that to the fact that the institution presently has zero revenue from the various tourist sites it manages, and you have a no cash flow situation. Reports say NICH's revenue has fallen by 75% - and that remaining revenue is all government subvention, which has now been cut. Typically, flows from tourist sites such as Nohoch Che'en and Maya temples account for more than three quarter of NICH's revenue - and all that's gone.

NICH first instituted 20% to 50% pay cuts across the board in May - but with no opening date for tourism on the horizon, now, the job cuts have started.

It says it has already cut overall expenditure by half, but, continues to run at a deficit because expenses - including payroll - "have exceeded revenue by approximately 50%."

The release adds "The Board of Directors and Management have agreed on a phased approach moving forward. The decisions we have taken thus far have been and continue to be challenging. We aim to ensure the continued protection and promotion of all forms of tangible and intangible culture while retaining most of our staff to the ability that we can." End quote.

It's a less than sterling statement of stability, and it's foreseeable that more cuts could follow as NICH tries to stay afloat.

Channel 7

Re: NICH lays off Staff [Re: Marty] #543029
06/18/20 05:53 AM
06/18/20 05:53 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 67,455
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National Institute of Culture and History - Cost-Saving Measures

The economic fall-out caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic has drastically reduced the revenue streams of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) to almost none. The current primary source of Income is the subvention by the Government of Belize.

NICH instituted cost-saving measures as early as March 2020. During that phase, NICH commenced reducing all expenditures that may have been considered non-essential, and in April and May NICH reduced Programmatic and Strategic Expenditures by approximately 95% of previous periods. Even though we were at reduced expenditures, we still managed to assist over (14) fourteen artists (including bands) with an honorarium for their performances during that period.

The entire NICH team supported additional cost-saving measures during May and June, which enabled the Institution to survive further. We have collectively been able to reduce total expenditures by approximately 48% for May 2020, in comparison to May 2019 and May 2018. Even though NICH implemented stringent cost-saving measures, our expenses have been more than our income for the respective period by approximately 50%. NICH has been operating at a deficit for this period, but it has managed to reduce its liabilities and remain functional.

This has been possible due to the prudential financial management introduced in 2018, subvention from the Government of Belize, and support from our entire team to accomplish the reduction of our expenditures. However, in June 2020, our Income was further reduced by 40%. As such, NICH had to take its ultimate cost-saving measures and that is the separation of a few staff members.

The Board of Directors and Management of NICH have been forced to make this decision of separating with approximately 6% of our entire staff, which includes members from all its Divisions/Departments. The Board of Directors and Management have agreed on a phased approach moving forward. The decisions we have taken thus far have been and continue to be challenging. We aim to ensure the continued protection and promotion of all forms of tangible and intangible culture while retaining most of our staff to the ability that we can. We are truly fortunate that most of our team are understanding the current situation and have supported the changes. These changes have affected all of us, but we remain optimistic and resilient. We thank all our stakeholders and staff for the support thus far.

Re: NICH lays off Staff [Re: Marty] #543046
06/18/20 10:52 AM
06/18/20 10:52 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 67,455
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

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Release by four NICH staffers that were laid off

The “protection and promotion of all forms of tangible and intangible culture” is vital to our country and a major contributor to the lives of Belizeans and our foreign visitors. Our country is experiencing an unprecedented health and financial crisis due to COVID19 and many Belizeans have lost their jobs while some are struggling to meet daily needs under greatly reduced wages.

We were not under the illusion that NICH would be spared, but to ensure that the Arts and Culture remain a vital part of our economy, we were prepared to endure the financial storm.

On April 29th, during the SOE and lockdown, the President of NICH hosted a Zoom meeting in which she outlined a “proposal”. That proposal was a reduction of salary by 50% as part of a series of ideas to cut costs at NICH. This would be for an initial 2 months (May & June) during which time NICH’s financial position would be monitored and staff appraisals carried out to determine redundancies. The staff voiced concern at the size of the cut.

On April 30th, the President sent a letter informing everyone that that they had until May 7th to respond whether they agreed or not to the 50% salary cut. After May 7th, she shared that 95% of the staff were in agreement. We were in the 5% expressing reservations. The two senior managers were informed that unless they changed their vote to yes, they would be immediately terminated. With that understanding, our votes were changed.

On Monday, June 15th, 2020, irregular deposits from NICH were noted in our respective bank accounts. Explanations were sought from the accountant and then the HR officer, none of whom knew what we were referring to. After 5 pm we received emails from HR informing of our immediate termination. To say we are disappointed in how our termination was handled would be an understatement. The blatant lack of due process and respect for employees of NICH was glaring. Where were the staff appraisals that were promised?

For an institution founded on the principles of tolerance, respect and mandated to safeguard culture in all its diversity, to treat its employees whom have dedicated over 10 years of service so reprehensibly shows little regard for the employees and the culture sector. To then blame, NICH’s current financial mismanagement on COVID19 is disingenuous, duplicitous and A FARCE.

From the day she took office, the current President, despite having no experience in managing a cultural institution, has operated in an autocratic manner which raised a number of red flags for the then internal auditor. She was later suspended by Cabinet under a cloud of suspicion. The whistle blower, the then internal auditor, was later fired.

To staff’s complete consternation, NICH has never replaced the following key positions which are critical to the effective management of the institution that have been vacated during this President’s term. These are:

Administrator
Internal Auditor
Business Development Manager
Human Resources Manager

Without an adequate system in place for staff to lodge grievances in a fair and reasonable manner, they work under constant fear of being victimized if they voice dissent.

Upon closer analysis of the press release sent out by NICH on June 17th, it is hard to believe that cutting staff by 6% will ensure NICH’s survival. We were victimized for speaking up about our concerns regarding NICH’s management. As such we implore the Minister responsible for Culture to restore proper fiscal management, transparency and due process within the Institution as soon as possible.

SIGNED:

Karen Vernon: FORMER Theatre Director, The Bliss Center for the Performing Arts , ICA-NICH

Suzette Zayden: FORMER Coordinator, Film and Media Arts Unit, ICA-NICH

Jackie Castillo: FORMER Creative Industry Development Officer, ICA-NICH

Teresita Torres: FORMER Administrative, Finance Assistant/ National Celebrations Commission (NCC's) Secretary, ADMIN-NICH


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