Belize teachers exempt from mandatory vaccination policyFriday, November 26, 2021
BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC)— The Belize government says teachers will be exempted from a policy that public officers must show proof that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by December 15 or face the risk of being marked absent from work and subject to disciplinary action.
“As we have already agreed with the union, the position remains the same. Those teachers who are not vaccinated will have to continue producing every two weeks, a test hoping that they are negative. So, a negative test every two weeks if they have chosen not to get the vaccine,” Education Minister, Francis Fonseca.
Officials say that while teachers fall under the public sector, they are not classified as public officers and as a result, when the December 15 deadline comes into effect and public officers will be mandated to show proof of vaccination, teachers will be spared.
Belize has recorded 570 deaths and 30,060 positive cases linked to the virus since March last year.
A circular from the Public Service, Constitutional and Political reform, states that 'for the safety of all public officers and the public serve, it has been decided that all essential workers and other public officers must be vaccinated by December 15, 2021.
The move has been criticised by the Public Service Union (PSU) but Health and Wellness Minister, Michel Chebat, said vaccination for government workers is a direction being taken globally.
Meanwhile, Fonseca confirmed that government met with social partners on Wednesday to review the country's economic performance.
The Joint Union Negotiating Team has requested a separate meeting amid reports that its members are calling on the government to reinstate the 10 per cent salary cut that was implemented at the start of the 2021/2022 fiscal year.
“First of all, the government has always been, I think the Prime Minster made it clear, we are absolutely committed to doing that. But, that is why it is important to have this social partnership committee and also to engage with the joint unions,” Fonseca said.
“What we presented was a six months report that was for the first six months of the fiscal year. But, that is not a reflection of what is yet to come over the next six months. As you know, inflation is high. There is many other factors. So, we presented a comprehensive report to them yesterday, a very realistic report. Although you are right in saying the economic figures are looking very good, there is a word of caution because there is many other factors.
“We have to continue to look at inflation being one, and right now we have a closed economy. The borders were closed. So that gives you a sort of false picture as to where economic growth and development is.”
The meeting between the government and the union negotiation team is scheduled for December 8.
“I think we have come a long way in one area I think. Those of us involved in the work at the Cabinet level have been surprised at the growth that we are seeing. We came into government faced with many crises and the economy was on life support.
“We are no longer on life support, but we are still not out of the hospital, if you would like to use a health analogy. We are no longer on the ventilator, but we are still in the hospital. The economy still needs treatment. It needs a lot of work. Agriculture has rebounded significantly. Tourism is on the rise much faster than we thought it would be.
“Those are very good signs for the rebounding of the economy. So, in terms of the question you asked about the 10 per cent, yes that is an absolute commitment of the government. When we meet with the joint unions, we will discuss that issue of how we can put on the table a clear plan of how we can return that 10 per cent to our public officers and teachers,” Fonseca added.