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Nov 7, 2016

Ministry Will Proceed With Salary Deductions, Bypass Union on Make-Up Time for Strike

The academic calendar is made up of at least one hundred and eighty contact days, of which teachers and students are required to be in session.  The eleven-day strike in October puts the actual classroom time below that benchmark, prompting Chief Education Officer Doctor Carol Babb to ensure that balance is maintained in fulfilling the annual curriculum.   While union president Luke Palacio has gone on record to say that the ministry is ambiguous in its message to teachers, Education Minister Patrick Faber says that deductions have been green lighted for the end of the month.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“And then to say that we cannot meet with the managing authorities is another shocker.  As you know, as we made clear in our release coming out of Cabinet last week Tuesday, it is the prerogative of the Chief Education Officer, it is the duty of the Chief Education Officer to make sure that we have the right number of contact days.  And with the eleven days missed by the strike action, we would have fallen below the threshold of a hundred and eighty days and it is the duty, again, of the chief to try to make sure that there are measures to ensure that that one hundred and eighty contact days are there.  I hear the president say that he is unclear as to whether or not we will pay or we will compensate the teachers… Well, I don’t know how any clearer we can be.  The decision to deduct from the salary of those teachers who were on strike was made, I extended an olive branch to say come and let’s talk about it.  Let’s see how with your union funds and the ministry’s monies we can talk about some make up time.  They refuse to come to the table so the deductions will proceed.  Now I want to be clear that there is a proposal on the table, a proposal that, as you know, has been accepted by the General Managers’ Association which is the managing authorities for the primary schools and probably pre-primary schools in the country.  We are yet to consult with the secondary school principals and the Association of Board Chairs of Secondary Schools.  And once that is done, you know that the proposal is to add on six additional days.  It is not the full makeup time but you will also have to understand that if we have to compensate the teachers, whether they were teachers on strike or whether they are teachers who were not on strike, we have to find the funds to do so.  If it is we try to make up the entire eleven days then that is utilizing all such monies and I don’t think that it would be fair for us to not compensate those teachers who were not on strike and in fact would be required now to make up time with those additional days.”

 

The council of management of the Belize National Teachers Union convened a meeting on Saturday to discuss the latest developments. The details of that meeting are not yet known.

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