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Oct 3, 2016

Catholic Confusion is Really Intimidation, says B.N.T.U.

But the strike action has not been without its hurdles. The Catholic Public Schools suffered an apparent communication breakdown last week. It started after infirm Catholic Bishop Dorick Wright, at a meeting of principals and representatives of Catholic management at his home, endorsed a press release that indicated his concern for the safety of students during the industrial action, but seemed to endorse the actions of the Belize National Teachers’ Union. That release came early on Thursday morning, but by mid-afternoon, General Manager of the Catholic Public Primary Schools Barbara Flores held a press conference, saying that the letter was not the official position of the management and that mechanisms have been put in place to keep schools open. She was then updated and still yet on Friday she confirmed to Minister of Education Patrick Faber that the earlier press release stands. Confusing? Not for the B.N.T.U., whose president Luke Palacio today said there can be no attempt to intimidate teachers.

 

Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

“There seems to be, and I don’t want to speak for the Catholic management, a letter came out, a press release came out from the Bishop’s office. And that Bishop’s office lends support to the teachers. The General Manager, in her own wisdom I would want to say, decided that that is not so. But what that general manager needs to understand is that the Catholic Church owns the schools. In fact, the official name of that is the Catholic Public Schools; it doesn’t say Sister Barbara’s Public Schools. And so she needs to respect the church and we ask her to respect the church. I am told that she has since rescinded or at least has reconsidered what she has written. If that is so, we want her again to understand; this is not about any one individual. She wrote a letter to the Minister of Education which we saw was copied to the Prime Minister. How far is she going to try and intimidate the teachers in the catholic management? We again have said to our teachers; don’t be intimidated, don’t be afraid, stand up for what you believe. And if any teacher is terminated because he or she participates in these strike actions that we are undertaking, we are going to defend those teachers to the fullest.”

 

Several Catholic schools in Belize City were in fact closed today, including Saint John’s College, run by the Jesuits; Pallotti High School, run by the Pallotine Sisters, and on Southside, St. Martin de Porres Primary.

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