And while the teachers have issued an ultimatum, the Public Service Union and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers are not with them. They have told the government that they are willing to take a deferral of their raise - in view of the broader economic picture. So that means the three unions, BNTU, PSU and APSSM form the Joint Unions' Negotiating Team which negotiated the increases with Government - and now two of three three are saying they are willing to defer the increase. It's a very significant difference of opinion, and today in Orange Walk the PSU president told CTV-3 why his union membership has taken that position:...
Eldred Neal, President - PSU
"We were tasked to go out and pool our constituent and return to a meeting with the Prime Minister to indicate whether or not public officers were about agreeing to the deferment. This was done and based on our polls public officers were in agreement that it is more risky or too risky at this time to look at the adjustment and especially understanding the reports that came out from NEMO, done by public officers ourselves. We are not buying into the entire numbers game, but we are suggesting that we understand the implications or the burdens that came from Hurricane Earl. We look at the issue of retrenchment. Definitely we have to worry about that. As the president of the PSU I would not want to see one person go home. We know IMF has been in the country and the reports are all saying that we must shrink the wage bill you know and by doing so, they simply mean send people home, we have too much people employed, the government of Belize is too friendly."
"We spoke to the issue of increase taxes. Already he agreed in first instance that there would be no additional tax given. We look at our inclusion in terms of the tax structure. We know that there's been a group of folks been tasked to do the reform. We look at having the social partners and the unions in fact having representation. That was one of the stipulations. In fact it was part of our collective bargaining agreement that is now we are trying to bring to close with the 3rd trance of this adjustment."
"The Prime Minister has called a meeting with the parties. How do you think this issue can be resolved?"
Eldred Neal, President - PSU
"Well for me I don't want to see it as an issue. We sat in a collective bargaining agreement as 3 unions, not as 3 independent unions and if BNTU's position is that they want their adjustment now, then of course we were open to go back to the table and have that discussion. That was not final position. We were tasked to go out and pool our constituents and then come back to the table, re-enter negotiations and then we move from there. Nothing was finalized. It was not written anywhere, documented anywhere. We were tasked to go to our constituents. I understand my colleagues from BNTU and I want to say, if we started the process together."
Today government issued a statement saying, quote, "In view of the impasse among the Unions, the Prime Minister has asked for an urgent meeting to see if their differing positions can be reconciled and some common ground found." End quote.
Now, government acting as good faith mediator between the unions is slightly cute, and we'll see where this one goes.