Is G.O.B. Sparking Rage?

Tonight the joint unions and the government remain at a standoff - with both he teachers and public service union membership on strike. But, it has not crippled government services and it has not closed schools or totally stopped online learning.

Still, many teachers and public officers are sitting it out - and today the agitation may have entered another stage with minor tyre fires on the George Price Highway. Now, we surely cannot link these activities to the unions - but we know that tyre fires on the highways have - in the past - been a standard part of civil and labour agitation in Belize.

Early this morning between 5:30 and 6:30 there was a single tyre on fire on the Colonel English bridge near mile 31, and earlier on - there had been three tyres near Harmonyville at mile 41.

These had no great effect on traffic and were quickly put out.

Union Negotiations Continue

But the joint unions did have an effect yesterday in Belize City when a total of around 900 teachers and public officers marched through the city streets.

They converged on the House of Culture where talks between government and the joint unions leadership resumed at 1:30 pm.

And they didn't come out until after 7:00 last night - a little more than 5 hours of negotiations. And just like the first set of consultations, there isn't much information about the details of that meeting. When it ended last night, our 7News team was waiting outside and caught up with the BNTU president, Elena Smith, as she left the House of Culture.

While she was tightlipped, she did say another meeting was planned for Thursday.

Elena Smith, President, BNTU
"We are not finished yet, you know, we only did a portion of the discussions today and we'll come back on Thursday for the second portion of the discussion."

Courtney Menzies:
"What was it like in there meeting with the government, what was the energy like?"

Elena Smith, President, BNTU
"I think as usual we had some cordial and some frank discussion and from now we'll go to membership and we come back and finalize matters."

Courtney Menzies:
"Do they seem willing to yield to some of the priority list that you mentioned this morning?"

Elena Smith, President, BNTU
"Well I don't want to get into that ye because we still have the list to complete so I prefer to do that when we've gone through the entire list."

Courtney Menzies:
"But they did put forward proposals?"

Elena Smith, President, BNTU

The Government side was led by Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde. He was acting Prime Minister until today when the Prime Minister returned to the country after leave.

Channel 7

Finally, G.O.B. and Joint Unions Enter Negotiations

The Joint Unions Negotiating Team and representatives of the Briceño administration resumed discussion on Tuesday afternoon.  That meeting was held at the House of Culture here in Belize City and lasted for almost six and a half hours. Both parties later exited the compound at around seven p.m.  Today, when we spoke with the President of the Public Service Union, Gerald Henry, he was unable to provide specific details of the meeting because discussions with government are still ongoing.  He did, however, mentioned that the discussions were cordial and that the joint unions finally feel that they have entered negotiations.

Gerald Henry, President, P.S.U.

“As it relates to the atmosphere of the meeting, usually our meetings tend to be very cordial, and you know it always appears as if though we are there to achieve something, and that remains the case.   It seems to me that it tended more towards being now a negotiation as opposed to prior to that, which would have been simply the government consulting with us to satisfy the law, as we kept saying. We are hoping that we could have some meaningful discussion going forward. So, we are hoping that we could have some meaningful discussion going forward with the hope that it will continue to be a negotiation or that it will be a full-fledged negotiation. Because we want to try to end this impasse as well, as quickly as possible.  We have to communicate with our membership what has taken place, what is expected to take place, tomorrow especially and perhaps a few days into next week. We see what they say about it and then we take back their position to the government. When we speak we don’t speak for ourselves. We speak the voice of our membership. So that is what we communicate to the government. The government will then in turn will do like what we are doing, and communicate what their leadership, which is of course the reverse of how we work, because of course we are a true democracy.”

The joint unions are set to meet with G.O.B. representatives at ten a.m. tomorrow morning.  We were not able to get any response from the government’s side on yesterday’s meeting. But the Minster responsible for Public Service, Henry Charles Usher, did inform News Five by text today that Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde may speak tomorrow at the conclusion of that meeting.

Channel 5