While we spoke with National President of the Belize National Teachers Union, Senator Elena Smith today, News Five asked for an update on the situation at the University of Belize, where the livelihood of a number of teachers as well as faculty and staff hang in the balance. The administration and board of the university have declared a state of financial exigency and the need to implement cost cutting measures. Recommendations were presented to the Board on July seventeenth without the union’s participation. The union says it is still trying to work in good faith and has listed a number of requirements, including the financial records of the university. Negotiations have been stalled. The National Trade Union Congress of Belize has also come out in support of the union, saying that the university’s management continues to disrespect and disregard the union’s request for transparency and accountability.

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“We are aware that they were given an opportunity to present some recommendations; they have been given some documentation and that’s the last I have heard from the president. He is expected to be reaching out to us as they proceed with going through those documents and providing their recommendations to see what it is that the board will take on from what they will recommend. And so I think while things are not as good as they ought to be or as good as we would want them to be, it is a first step in the Board reaching out to them and congratulating them as a union and providing them with some information and an opportunity for them to share their concerns and their recommendations as per the decision that the board will take regarding salary cuts and other matters.”

Will Members of UB’s Faculty, Staff Be Terminated?

There is a projected loss of seven million dollars in the university’s cash flow. Back in June, a questionnaire was issued to poll whether faculty and staff would accept a cut in salaries. Among the recommendations, we are told, is the termination of members of support staff, including security and maintenance workers. But are the talks of layoffs extended to teachers as well?

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“Not quite, but we are aware that they will be having discussions in terms of say the adjunct lecturers. And so I think all of those things should be on the discussion table as they meet with the board and the union.”

Channel 5