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Oct 13, 2016

B.N.T.U. Says They Will Consult Members

Luke Palacio

The B.N.T.U. has just concluded its meeting; a number of issues were decided upon. But first we can report tonight that the strike continues on Friday and the union will determine on a daily basis for how long the industrial action will proceed. Our News Five crew is just back in studios, following an interview with the B.N.T.U. National President Luke Palacio. Palacio says that the PM is disingenuous in his remarks today because some of the issues mentioned had not been agreed upon.

 

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

“We had a meeting with the Prime Minister; we had written to him asking for a follow up meeting on one that we had on September twenty-third and we had our membership—at least representative of each of our branch executive—come to Belize City to be a part of the support team, if you will. And then two delegates from each branch make up our Council of Management so those two delegates were in the meeting with the Prime Minister.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What is coming out of this particular meeting? Does the strike resume? Do you guys go back to the classrooms tomorrow? What can we expect?”

 

Luke Palacio

“We must make it absolutely clear that given the outcome of today’s meeting; we’ve been told that the Prime Minister has made some statements that we have not heard ourselves—so we don’t want to comment too much on that. But basically we want it to be known that contrary to what we’ve heard, the three percent salary adjustment was discussed with the Prime Minister this afternoon we have not let go of that condition. We continue to insist that the three percent salary adjustment that the Prime Minister is asking us to defer, we are not accepting that deferral unless we get compensated for what we rightly deserve. We also need to point out that in the discussion, the Prime Minister; I believe in his usual way, has been able to address some of the good governance issues that we’ve raised. But remember that there are also the issues that have to do with labor relations that we have not satisfactorily gotten an agreement on. Those include the Social Security coverage to and from work; our three percent salary adjustments and of course Proposal Twenty-two of the Belize National Teachers Union that speaks to proper compensation for our teachers, support staff and grant-aided secondary schools. Those, we believe, are labor related issues that must be addressed adequately for the membership of B.N.T.U. and the wider teaching population.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“The question remains the same sir. Are you guys going back to the classrooms tomorrow? Do you continue with your strike action? Where do you stand as a union?”

 

Luke Palacio

“We continue our strike action tomorrow because we are not satisfied with the outcome of what has transpired.”

 

Reporter

“Mister Palacio….what was different between this meeting and the last one?”

 

Luke Palacio

“What was different? The difference is that it got worse because basically we thought that we would have made some movements today. There were certain issues that we thought we could have moved on to get the Prime Minister to agree, but instead we see that it has gone in a different direction. A case in point, we had asked for the removal of the Minister of Police, Senator Hulse. At that meeting, the Prime Minister had indicated to us that if indeed as an outcome of the investigation into the Auditor General’s Special report; that if a police investigation needed to be done, he would consider or he would be prepared to revisit that particular demand. Today, he has adamantly said that he is not going to remove Senator Hulse as Minister of Police, despite what has happened. In relation to the Social Security issue for instance, to and from work, we continue to insist that it is a labor issue. It is not only teachers; it is not only persons who get paid from government—but even persons who are employed in the private sector—who travel  to and from work in transportation not provided for by their employers. We believe that that labor relations issue could have been a gesture if indeed—and I even stress—that if you are looking after your workers that is a part of good governance. Of course the Prime Minister differed with that. So again, at that point, he had indicated that if we had kept the classrooms opened or if we had promised to keep the classrooms opened, he would have considered and would have signed an SI to amend the Social Security Act for coverage to and from work. Today now, he has again gone back on his word and has decided that that will not happen. So those are examples of where we have come out worse than we went in at the last meeting.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Do you believe that the union is being reasonable in terms of the demands it has put forward to the Prime Minister and the Government of Belize?”

 

Luke Palacio

“I would prefer that you in the media answer that because every day those demands are being made by citizens, regular citizens. Only the government has not seen that; they remain intransigent and the Belizean people will have to be the better judge.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “B.N.T.U. Says They Will Consult Members”

  1. Marb says:

    Come on Mr. Luke, I believe Belize is the only country that teachers gets paid year round even though we are a 3rd. World country. May if teachers will be taken that privilege they will appreciate their work and will not have time to resolve the ‘nations problems’ and would dedicate more time to see that teachers are doing what they are paid to do!!!

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