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Oct 20, 2016

B.N.T.U. Rejects Call to Use Strike Fund to Pay Teachers’ Salaries

Late this evening, News Five obtained a letter from Minister Faber sent to Luke Palacio. The letter makes two proposals in which the ministry is softening its position. Faber proposes that the B.N.T.U. utilizes the strike fund to pay the teachers who were on strike and second, that the Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Education, is willing to subsidize the payment of teachers where the B.N.T.U. strike fund is insufficient to meet the salaries of teachers who were on strike. The letter also asks for a meeting on Friday to discuss time lost to students as a result of the strike. Acknowledging that it would in any event be a huge undertaking to meet this amount, B.N.T.U. National President Luke Palacio was adamant in saying that the Minister should have known, as a former executive member of the B.N.T.U.’s Belize District Branch, to what purpose the Strike Fund is put – and not put.

 

Luke Palacio

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

“It is not a so called strike fund; it is a strike fund. And the purpose of the strike fund that has been established over the years is for us to use for mobilization whenever our teachers or our union will engage in any kind of industrial action. And so that money is not to pay salaries. It is not to pay salaries for persons who would be on strike—we’ve discuss that with our membership, our membership fully understands that; as far as we know. Yes, the Belize District branch of the B.N.T.U. was raising some funds to assist their teachers who were on strike in whatever form. And branches were encouraged if you can find ways of raising funds—not necessarily to pay teachers for the days they were out, because I don’t know that we could do that, but to assist them in all the other activities that we were engaged in during the days of the strike. Monies were used from the strike fund, yes, to address the whole matter of mobilization and to ensure that the activities would have been carried out. The Minister of Education has written asking us to a meeting tomorrow to discuss how we can pay the teachers who were on strike and that a portion of our strike fund be used for that purpose. The minister always boasts that he was an officer of the Belize branch of the B.N.T.U. and he better than anybody else shoulda know that this strike fund is not to pay for teachers who are on strike.”

 

Palacio told us that the Union will communicate to Faber that it cannot attend such a meeting until the Council of Management authorizes it.

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