Monday, March 4, 2019
The Social Security Board (SSB) Employees staged a protest at all the branch offices country wide by banging on their desks for several minutes. This was done as a threat to further industrial action by the majority of the staff who are unionized under the Christian Worker Union (CWU).
Several reasons are cited in the media, including social media, for the protest by the staff at the SSB. Salient among the many complaints is the proposal by the Board to “privatize” the employees’ complementary pension fund that holds approximately $9.5M dollars. The apprehension of the employees stems from the fact that this contributory pension fund is financed by both the employees and the SSB and has been managed and administrated by a Board of Trustees for several decades and has never faced any issue. However, now the SSB Board of Directors is proposing to give the management of this fund to a private firm. The Social Security employees do not see a need to start paying “management” fees for what does not have a high cost or any cost to the fund. The majority of employees, and the Union in particular, are very skeptical about the motive behind this proposal. Why fix what is not broken? Who wants to get their hand into the cookie jar?
Another reason the Union is up in arms is that some Union Representatives/Shop Stewards are being suddenly transferred out of their home station. This is not only been done in a sudden manner but done spitefully and in a way that puts these employees out of pocket. It is widely believed by staff that this is due to the fact that the Union has been in not-so-friendly negotiations with the Board regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The Board has tabled the removal of several benefits that the staff has enjoyed for many years and the Union is not taking this latest move lightly.
Discussions with SSB employees, throw out the dissatisfaction and low morale among the employees of this institution. Employees feel that they are being asked to bear the brunt in the reduction of expenses in the name of efficiency but the Board and higher management are not participating in the belt tightening. From what we are hearing here at the Belize Times, last Monday’s employee’s action is only a preview to coming attractions. We will wait and see!