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Nov 22, 2016

After Court Victory, Education Ministry Considers Next Moves; B.N.T.U. Piles on Pressure

There is still no definitive timeline tonight for when teachers will receive the refund of their salaries for the eleven days they were out on strike last month.  Despite a Supreme Court ruling in its favor on Monday, the Belize National Teachers Union remains uncertain when government will process and disburse the remainder of their wages for October.  Those deductions were preemptively completed ahead of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin’s decision to grant an injunction barring the Ministry of Education from docking their pay.  News Five spoke with Chief Education Officer Doctor Carol Babb earlier today and she says that while there is no fixed date for disbursement, the ministry is now awaiting further instructions from the Solicitor General’s Office.  According to Doctor Babb, school managers have been querying about the matter; however, M.O.E.’s finance officers are yet to get back to her with a working timetable.  Meanwhile, B.N.T.U. National President Luke Palacio has confirmed to the media that there has been an effort—even before the court decision—by some managing authorities to proceed with payment in full for teachers at their respective schools.  That move, says Palacio, is tantamount to union busting.

 

Luke Palacio

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

“We did nothing wrong when we demonstrated.  We did nothing wrong when we went on strike.  We did everything for this country and we are prepared to continue to do so based on the support that we get from our people.  And we must always remember, this country belongs to all of us and whatever good we can do now we must do it because otherwise we can lose what we already have gained over these years.”

 

Reporter

“Sir, does the B.N.T.U. have any comment in relation to reports we have gotten that, for instance, some managements decided that they were going to pay the teachers and that was creating some sort of division again.”

 

Luke Palacio

“Well of course we’ve said it from the beginning that the attempt by the minister is one of union busting.  The fact that he wanted to pay teachers who were not on strike and we keep on saying, we are not going to go down that road and fight with who was at school and who was not at school.  What we’ve said is that definitely no teaching or very little teaching took place during those eleven days and in terms of the ministry again, trying to be a bully if you will, yes we’ve confirmed that managements were sent back their pay sheets even up to this morning.  They were sent back their pay sheets because they submitted [that] they did not have any deductions.  So we are confirming what you have just indicated.”

 

B.N.T.U. returns to court on December sixteenth to argue the legality of the salary deduction, following the eleven-day strike in October.

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