Yesterday the Social Security Board Workers made our headline news when they staged a sickout because negotiations are not going as they would like. Today, it is the UB Faculty and Staff that are making our headlines. At around 10 am today, the University of Belize Faculty and Staff Association staged an impromptu demonstration as a pre-rally leading up to the UBFSA cross campus meeting to be held tomorrow. Emanuel Pech reports.
UB Protestors chanting: “Equal Treatment. Equal pay! Equal Treatment. Equal pay! Equal Treatment. Equal pay!
Emanuel Pech Reporter: This sums up the sentiment of the 400 plus members of the UBFSA across all four campuses in the country. As you may recall, on Thursday last week, the UB faculty and staff from the Belmopan and Belize campuses congregated at the UB gymnasium in Belmopan where one of the main topics for discussion was a 14% across the board salary increase for all its members. The association sent an email the president of UB, Alan Slusher, that same day in which they stated their proposal for a salary increase in light of recent increases to other public officers. Slusher has responded and on Tuesday earlier this week, the one week old association executive met with the president and the board. During the meeting, it was relayed to the executive, according to a letter from the President of the association ,that since August 1st 2015 a 5% salary adjustment was made by the Board of Trustees which should come into effect shortly. This was the reason for this chant at today’s rally.
Rally Leader: “Do you want 5%?
UB Protestors : No!
UB Protestors : 14%
Rally Leader: “When will we get it?
UB Protestors : Now!
Emanuel Pech: The president of UB , however, indicated to the association that this should not be taken as a counter proposal to the 14% proposed by the association. In a letter to the members, the president writes that the University Management could not provide a concrete response regarding the 14% salary adjustment. There were also talks of a compensation review and a business review which will inevitably affect salaries. The letter also indicated that it will engage its members in campus specific meetings, the first of which is to take place in Belmopan tomorrow at 10 am. In light of this, the board today held an impromptu demonstration as a form of pre -rallying before the main event tomorrow. They started by the Scarlet Macaw building in UB with only some 20 or so members. They continued on to the Jaguar Auditorium where they recruited more staff members to join in the impromptu rally. By the time they made their third stop, they had amassed quite a number of supporters, even some students, who sympathized with them. They sang the Union anthem in front of the administration build and made a final stop at in front of the library before hosting a small rally underneath the white tenth where speeches were delivered in preparation for the meeting tomorrow. Reporting for Plus News Emanuel Pech.
The purpose of tomorrow’s meeting , we were told by the president of the Association Fermin Olivera, was to inform of the discussions with the UB president and board and in so doing chart a way forward based on the collective interest of the UBFSA. As mentioned, the rally held this morning was not planned and the association president was only made aware of it when it was already in progress. Our sources also indicate to us that there is perceived discontent with the one-week-old Association. We will keep following this developing story.