Social Security employees plan nationwide protest
Belize City, February 9, 2011
Reliable sources have indicated to the BELIZE TIMES that hundreds of Social Security workers are planning to stage a sickout against their management – of all days on Valentine’s Day, Monday February 14th.
We are told that the action is meant to show how much “love” the workers have for their managers, especially their Chief Executive Officer Merlene Bailey-Martinez, who has shown total indifference towards their concerns.
So what has transpired at Social Security to have workers up in arms? We understand that a series of disagreements between the management and the union, and the management and employees over salary increases, sick leave, health risks, and worker’s incentives, has been the main causes.
In 2007, Social Security workers through their union, the Christian Workers Union, commenced negotiations under the former PUP administration for salary increases. That process was blocked when the Barrow Administration took, and now, three years later it is yet to be resolved.
Those issues have been brought to the attention of CEO Bailey-Martinez for several months now, but she has refused to deal with them. In fact, the CEO reportedly doesn’t even attend meetings called by the employees. In a recent email circulated among top managers, the blame for not granting salary increase to the employees was passed on to the Social Security Board, which is chaired by Lois-Young Barrow.
There are other concerns, such as a deliberate attempt by management to block applications sent by employees for small loans, as well as the alleged cheating of pensions by including it in the salaries in the cases of some employees.
The SSB is in trouble, with chaos the only option that will prevail. Employees say they will take the first phase of the protest even though management has warned them against it.