“Singh was Disingenuous and Prejudicial” says CWU

And just when we thought they were done for today, the Christian Workers Union fired a 3 page press release criticizing the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Social Security Board Dough Singh, for comments made on Monday. The press release says that the CWU,

” in conjunction and in solidarity with its members from the Social Security Board, denounces the recent conduct of the SSB Chairman, Doug Singh, who seems intent in raising public sentiments against the workers and providing misleading and inaccurate information.”

end quote, They said his comments come directly after agreeing on a media blackout on matters relating to the details in the negotiations of the CBA. This, they say, is a clear indication of bad faith negotiations. They went on to reject his comments, considering them “Disingenuous and Prejudicial”.  CWU essentially took issue with four main points raised by the SSB chairman Dough Singh. Among them were his comments of priority on pensioners over employees. Singh was quoted as saying,

“Ultimately, the Social Security funds  are for the people who contribute… Not for administration bloats. And so whatever the staff get [sic], will be a function of what the board can recommend for pensioners out there.”vlcsnap-2015-10-06-20h43m08s110

To this the union responded by saying that,

The Chairman failed to disclose to the media that the Board of Directors of the Social Security Board has approved and received for themselves in excess of a 150% increase on their allowances since their tenure. Also, it has failed to indicate that staff benefits have never been tied to SSB pensioner’s benefits.”

Again, Singh reiterated that the staff is there at the mercy of structure and that they

“are going to look at pension benefits for pensioners and … going to give that priority above any increases under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. “

Here the union cited the Social Security Act, Chapter 44, Laws of Belize saying that it does not allow the Board to act unilaterally in the consideration of any increase to SSB pensioners. That, they say, is a direct function of the Minister of Finance. They concluded that

“to join the two issues consideration indicates the commitment of the Board of Directors to play games with the CBA and to subvert the negotiation process. “

Other points raised included the fact that Chairman Singh said that SSB employees enjoy all benefits enjoyed by public service workers including 4 to 5 weeks vacation and a generally higher salary rate. The Union said this is wholly untrue as a recent review shows they are on par and even below remuneration within the public service following the recent raise in salaries in the public service. So where does this leave us? With the two sides remaining steadfast in their position the Ministry of Labour could be expected to come into the picture anytime soon. SSB workers are the third group to make use of the election season to agitate for a salary increase, although their proposals were sent to the board since last year November.

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