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Oct 13, 2016

P.M. and B.N.T.U. Meet; Some Agreements Reached

Dean Barrow

The Prime Minister met with the Belize National Teachers Union beginning at two o’clock this afternoon. At five-forty this evening, the P.M. spoke about what happened inside; in respect of the demands made by the union and the good governance agenda. There was agreement on some areas, but common ground was not found in all matters. The first point on the agenda was the Senate Select Committee; here G.O.B. and the B.N.T.U. are not in concert.  The PM outlined a proposal on the election of a Chair, but he did not move on the demand for the removal of Senator Godwin Hulse as Minister of the Police. But there was progress on the investigation of William “Danny” Mason, charged with the murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“The B.N.T.U. is still concerned, as I understand it, about the composition; though not about the terms of reference. Their focus was on composition because they would like to see the government side go down to one. That is not government’s view. Government insisted that the motion that was passed when the senate met a week or so ago is what should stand. We feel that government having two senators will not in any way interfere with the ability of the senate select committee to do its job impartially, thoroughly and of course this will take place by way of live airings of the proceedings of that senate select committee. I should add that the question of the chair of the select committee did arise and we were making the point that in the event the current position holds—which is that neither the N.T.U.C.B. senator nor the senator representing the Council of Churches wishes to become chair—we are asking that that be reconsidered and we hope that the labor senator might be given permission by the N.T.U.C.B. to take up the chairmanship. But if that doesn’t happen, one of the government senators would become chair and as we understand the orders governing the procedure, that government senator, as chair, would then lose any power to vote so in effect only the social partner senators on the committee and one government senator would be in a position to vote. I must make clear that the B.N.T.U. indicated that it was still concerned about the position we are taking and reserved its own formal response. So that is where things stand with respect to the senate select committee. On the question of the removal of Senator Godwin Hulse, I was quite clear that government cannot, will not accede to that. I made the point that really in my view, based on the judgment of Chief Justice Conteh with respect to the 2005 strike; that is not a demand that can legitimately constitute part of a properly described labor dispute. There was a second…no there was not a second portion to that. That’s the second portion of point number one. Point number one is the senate select committee and the removal of Senator Hulse. So I think I have sufficiently been clear to you what government’s position with respect to both issues is. Point number two was that an international investigation be conducted into what is being described as the apparent connection and involvement of ministers of government with Danny Mason. We’ve agreed that we have no difficult, government that is, in trying to source some external assistance for such an investigation.”

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