Fruitful Meeting between Prime Minister and NTUCB  Print E-mail
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Thursday, 03 September 2009 14:38

Belmopan, Monday, August 31 - Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) at their request to discuss a ten-point agenda formulated by the NTUCB. The president of the NTUCB, Dylan Reneau, opened the meeting by pointing out that, in his opinion, the media recently has been portraying in the news that the government and the NTUCB are in a confrontational mode, and that is not the case.  The president explained further that the NTUCB appreciated the

opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister and have meaningful dialogue on important issues.  

The Prime Minister and the NTUCB were able to arrive at workable solutions on several of the issues.  With regards to the pending Labor Law Amendments, the Prime Minister agreed to advance the ‘just cause’ portion of the amendments to the Attorney General’s ministry with the hope of taking the legislation to the House in October.  While the Prime Minister did not support giving the NTUCB a seat on the Central Bank Board, he committed to arrange periodic briefings by the Governor of Central Bank or Chairman of the Board to the NTUCB. 

The DFC Commission of Inquiry Report from Mrs. Bailey-Martinez has been a sticking point for the unions but, as the Prime Minister explained, much time has lapsed without any challenge to the injunction placed on Mrs. Bailey-Martinez’s report and it may be very difficult, if not impossible, to get that injunction lifted.  However, Mr. Barrow agreed that if the NTUCB got legal advice on how to raise the issue of the injunction in the courts again, he would take follow-up action. 

With regards to the request for the NTUCB to get a seat on the DFC Board of Directors, the Prime Minister agreed in principle but only after consultation with the DFC Board and CDB would a final decision be made. The NTUCB had also requested that the practice of rotating the Deputy Chair of the Social Security Board among the social partners continue and/or be formalized.  The Prime Minister decided to let the law stand as is. Another issue that had received quite a bit of media attention was the representation of the NTUCB on the Oversight Committee for the Venezuelan Housing Grant. The NTUCB explained that while they may be guilty of taking too long to select representatives to the Committee, they had never resigned from the Committee and had been in communication with the Ministry of Housing on this matter of selection. Mr. Barrow conceded that he and the Cabinet were under the impression that they had resigned from the Oversight Committee so he agreed to revisit the issue with the Cabinet. He raised the matter with the Cabinet again and they retained their position not to include the NTUCB at this late stage of the housing project. 

The Prime Minister agreed to delay any movement on the Bill to amend Chapter 298 which deals with strike actions. The process to settle disputes under this Act has been frustrated on numerous occasions by lengthy delays and, therefore, the Prime Minister agreed that it is only fair that the NTUCB be given an opportunity to bring additional changes to strengthen the Bill from the NTUCB’s perspective to create a balance.  The meeting ended on a very cordial note and the Prime Minister agreed to make an effort to meet with the NTUCB every six months.