Wwe 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 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 resort.

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."

Reporter
"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 else.

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."

Courtney Menzies
"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 the pain."

Channel 7