met up with the Deputy Prime Minister as his meeting with the Belize
National Teachers Union came to an end. It was the third part in the
series of the budget consultations happening with various unions.
According to Cordel Hyde, the meetings are going smoothly Ã¢â‚¬" but that
may be because there has been no talk yet of wage cuts. Still, Hyde
said every possibility is on the table, but salary cuts are a last
Hon. Cordel Hyde - Deputy Prime Minister
"I think we've had very fruitful discussions, very positive discussion,
with an atmosphere of partnership because at the end of the day we're not
enemies, we're partners, we have to be, it's not about PUP or UDP, it's
about being Belizeans and trying to find the right solutions to the
challenging problems that we have and so we've had long healthy fruitful
productive discussions and those discussion will continue. They've been
rather helpful in terms of cost saving measures, in terms of revenue
enhancement measures that have been neglected over the long years of the
UDP, they've been rather helpful and some of those ideas we've had already
but they've helped us to finetune those and those discussions will continue
and we look forward to at the end of the day reaching some sort of middle
ground where we dispel of out share responsibility, shared duty, obligation
to the people of the country to come up with a workable, sustainable and
very equitable homegrown plan of recovery because we are at a bad place
right now. I think it's clear and it should be clear to all how bad things
are in this country. We have 64,000 people who are unemployed, can't find
work, another 82,000 who are underemployed, working but not enough, getting
paid but not enough, really really dire conditions."
"Are the unions completely opposed to a wage cut or freeze?"
Hon. Cordel Hyde
"You'd have to ask them that but I don't, to hazard a guess I think at the
end of the day we've said to them that everything is on the table, we are
looking quite comprehensively at everything and that's the last thing we
would want to do so we're looking at everything else to try to put us in a
position where we wouldn't have to go there but ultimately if we have to go
there we would make that case to them and they're prepared to listen to
that, that's my impression."
After yesterday's meeting with the PSU, the first vice president Dean
Flowers accused the government of not taking the promised 10% cut to
their salaries that the PM announced during their swearing into the
House of Representatives. According to Hyde, the BNTU also posed the
question to him. But he said he's "taking a lick" just like everybody
Hon. Cordel Hyde
"We were asked that just now in our meeting with the BNTU and our
information is that that was done across the board, a 10% pay cut, and in
the instances where that may not have happened it's not our fault, it may
have been lost in the transition from the message from the financial
secretary to the finance officer and if that has not taken place in some
instances then for sure it will be rectified."
"But sir have you seen it within your the money that you have been
receiving, have you noted the pay cut?"
Hon. Cordel Hyde
"My money very short, man, my money very short, I dih tek lik. No but
seriously, everybody is taking a lick, we see it every day at our clinics,
we see it every day at our offices, this is unlike every other time I have
seen in all of my life, people are saying to us listen, sometimes we have
to miss meals at night to ensure that our children have something to eat.
People show us bills, hundreds, thousands of dollars to the utility
companies that they can't pay, they can't eat so they can't pay. I've seen
more grown men cry in the past few weeks than I've seen in my entire life.
What's happening right now is unprecedented in this country. These are not
ordinary times. And so our commitment to the unions, our commitment to this
nation is that it will be shared sacrifice, we will do this together and we
will do it in an equitable kind of way so that the people who can least
afford any kind of cuts or challenges or adjustment that they are sheltered
and the people who can afford it that they are dealt with so that we share