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Oct 27, 2016

Will School Managements Side With Teachers?

Luke Palacio

The Belize National Teachers’ Union is hoping to find an ally in the various school managing authorities. A meeting between them was scheduled for Monday of this week but it did not go off as planned. Nonetheless, according to Union President Luke Palacio, the authorities appear to have more of a listening ear than the Ministry, which he accuses of “hamstringing” the managers by holding on to the purse strings to make their point.

 

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

“That’s important, to get them on our side; unfortunately we could not get – we got confirmation from only one management, and the others indication was that efforts would have been made to try to get the other managements to come, they did not. So yes we have written, requesting another meeting, but up to now we have not gotten any positive response, if you will; but we will definitely continue to follow that up.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, have there been any, at least in informal ways, any commitments made from any of those managing authorities that they would be prepared to pay the teachers who were on strike, even if the Government withholds the grants for that month?”

 

Luke Palacio

“The thing is this: managements know their role. Managements are aware of the importance of the teachers to them. They were prepared to work with the teachers. They did not say specifically, we will not deduct; but they would have been prepared to mitigate, to ease the burden that these teachers would face as a result of this deduction. But if you read the memo that Dr. Babb sent out, she is saying to the managements, even monies that we should have bene transferring to you, we won’t unless you do X, Y, Z. This arrangement – with the Church-State partnership, the grant-aided arrangement – these types of managements will not have that kind of money; that is not their primary activity. They are providing an essential social service to this country; they are assisting the Government in fact, in ensuring that our children get education. And so when the Government, through the Ministry of Education, makes those kinds of statements and demands to those managements, that unless you do X, Y, Z, we are not going to give you the salaries that you should be getting and any other monies that we would have been transferring to you, then it is time for people to start to wonder what it is, and the question therefore – if the teachers are prepared to make up the time, every time the Government officials – and the Minister made this statement several times yesterday, “It is for the children.” If it is for the children, and the teachers are willing to make up the time, then we ask the question, who is now punishing the children, because if you don’t pay the teachers their salaries, they won’t make up the time. We are prepared to do so, and we insist on the Government, rethink your position, and pay the teachers; we are prepared to make up the time.”

 

The strike had continued for eleven days and the Christmas and possibly Easter holidays might be considered for shortening.

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