This morning, educators from the south took to the streets of Dangriga in protest of a proposed salary cut for teachers and public officers. We’ll show you the turnout and what the membership of the Belize National Teachers Union has to say on government’s plan to shave their monthly wages by ten percent over the next three years. But first, Prime Minister John Briceño weighs in on the firm opposition that the proposal has been receiving from the Joint Unions Negotiating Team. Another round of meetings was held on Monday afternoon, but by and large, the unions are against the idea of a reduction. According to PM Briceño, the public service is the only group of workers that has not given up a portion of its wages since the pandemic began last year.

Prime Minister John Briceño

“Well it is expected, nobody wants a pay cut. Everybody wants a raise, but the reality is that presently we have thirty percent unemployment right now. We have underemployment and unemployment rate of thirty-eight percent. We have tens of thousands of Belizeans that are suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of the tourism industry and the revenues from government have dried up. Of every tax dollar that we collect, we are spending about eighty-three cents on salaries, we simply don’t have the money to be able to continue to pay. We have been borrowing almost to the tune of one million dollars a day and we cannot continue to print money. If we go down that road, we’re going to have hyper-inflation, we’re going to have a devaluation. It’s going to be far worst. For us it’s important for but what is important for us is for the Belizean people to understand that all of us are in this together and that all of us have to make sacrifices. In the private sector, those that are working will tell you that their salaries have been cut, they are working less hours, they are underemployed but they are holding on to what they have. So now we, by extension, are asking our public officers and our teachers to help us to do the responsible thing. It is your tax dollars, our tax dollars that are paying them and if all of us are doing some form of going through some kind of hard time and doing what is necessary to survive then they need to help us. Only the teachers and the public service have not done any kind of sacrifice.”

Channel 5