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Oct 4, 2016

Education Minister says Government Did Not Break Off Talks with Union

Patrick Faber

Cabinet met today in Belmopan and out of that sitting, a release was issued asking the unions to suspend the strike and return to the negotiating table. But first, G.O.B. says it is disappointed that the B.N.T.U. moved the goalposts in deciding to strike, closing schools and affecting the children even though the B.N.T.U. had already acknowledged the proposed compromise on the three percent salary adjustments. In respect to proposal twenty-two, Cabinet says it is to be dealt with as part of the next collective bargaining agreement exercise, for which a commencement date is yet to be fixed later. The Minister of Education, Patrick Faber spoke today on government’s position.

 

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“The issue of the three percent—getting into details now—that issue we are confident was never closed by the Prime Minister; it was never closed in terms of discussions with the Ministry of Education because they were never engaged directly with the Ministry of Education on this issue. I am baffled at how they can bring me and the Ministry of Education into all of this as if it were they were negotiating directly. Remember these negotiations were a part of the three union negotiations, the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, which they were the ones who took out the salary adjustment and said we are going to take this matter directly to the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister; that arrangement was an aside arrangement. So for that to be thrown on the collective bargaining negotiations and them talking about how long it took that is all nonsense. Now as it relates to proposal twenty-two, ladies and gentlemen again, the union is indeed baffling. For them to say that there is this long drawn out period of negotiations is factual and that is the reason why all of us—all parties involved—the B.N.T.U. included, at that last meeting said it is time that we bring these negotiations to a close because it is taking too long. The records, the minutes of those meetings, will reflect that I was the chairman and that I suggested that in fact because of complaints coming from both sides and because of the long period that it was drawn out that there were some mechanisms employed over the period that were not very efficient and that were not yielding results that benefited anybody so that we should cut off those negotiations and start new negotiations, something to which all parties agreed. All parties in that meeting agreed that in fact proposal twenty-two was exhausted and for the benefit of those who don’t know, proposal twenty-two was tabled first in the negotiators of the CBA. Once it reached a point where there seemed to be no support in that body, the request was for a cabinet paper to be drawn up. That cabinet paper was drawn up and sent to the cabinet. The cabinet considered it and the cabinet did not favorably consider it because of the huge financial implication that it would have and sent it back. It was accepted that it was dealt with by the unions, including the B.N.T.U.”

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