At midday today, public officers across the country walked out of their respective government buildings and took to the streets in the various municipalities in anticipation of strike action that is to take effect next Tuesday. News Five’s Duane Moody was out on Freetown Road where teachers joined public officers and paraded through the streets for an hour. Here’s that report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
It was a calculated move made by the Public Service Union today, when at the stroke of twelve o’clock public officers in Belize City packed up and left their offices to congregate on Freetown Road. Within minutes and with placards in hand, they paraded along the main thoroughfare momentarily interrupting traffic at some points.
Jacqueline Meighan, Public Officer
“I am out here on my lunch break.”
“So for how long are you going to be walking the streets?”
“Until as long as they decide they will not cut my salary. My salary cut is like somebody whole house rent. I have the right to come out here and advocate for my salary because this is my salary. And I have the right to be out here and defend the salary that I have worked for.”
The activity was held across the country in various municipalities.
Gerald Henry, President, Public Service Union
“A continuation of what we have been doing in terms of our industrial action. And we always said that we wanted to maintain a degree of presence and consciousness in terms of what this action is all about. And hence the reason why we continue to engage in these industrial actions.”
Joining the public officers today in Belize City were teachers from the Belize District Branch of the B.N.T.U.
Tanya Flowers-Gillett, B.N.T.U. President, Belize District Branch
“We just united with P.S.U. members and we did a small demonstration down Freetown; that was the goal today as they embark on their strike. To our members, I am just appealing to you all to come out and join us in full forces and let’s stand out ground and send out message. The ten percent is out there, but there are other things that we are fighting for. So let’s stand our ground as B.N.T.U. and get the message across so that five years, ten years [from now] we are not here again. Honestly, we need to make a stand now and get it over with.”
Strike Action is Imminent!
The Joint Unions Negotiating Team met in a marathon session on Thursday evening to devise a strategy going forward, as public officers are set to commence a strike on May fourth. According to P.S.U. President Gerald Henry, the imminent industrial action will see the operations of some government departments grinding to a halt in the days ahead. He shared with News Five a few details from the lengthy sit-down.
On the Phone: Gerald Henry, President, Public Service Union
“Pretty much what we did was just to meet to formulate the way forward considering the fact that the P.S.U. has already submitted that on Tuesday next week we will officially be on strike.”
“What are we to expect on Tuesday of next week? Is it that the public officers won’t report to work?”
On the Phone: Gerald Henry
“Well there will be certain departments where, for those who support the actions of the unions that the workers won’t be going into work. So what people need to expect is exercise some patience because there will be a slowdown in the services provided and we are hoping that the majority of the public officers would understand that this is not only a situation that we are fighting for the ten percent but it’s also to get the good governance issues implemented, the legislation implemented so that we are not here five years from now with them coming to us for another five or ten percent.”