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Jan 19, 2017

Teachers Hoping Government Will Be Reasonable in Mediation

In December 2016, the Belize National Teachers’ Union and Ministry of Education were ordered to mediation by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin to resolve a dispute over attempts by Government to withhold teachers’ salaries for the eleven days they were on strike in October. They also hoped to resolve the matter of teachers making up class time lost due to the industrial action. However, the Ministry, with the support of primary school managers, attempted to enforce its plan to take four days from the Christmas break, as well as two from the Easter holiday, to make up the time. The plan did not work as students and teachers largely stayed at home, and the mediation has yet to take place. Attorney for the Union, Eamon Courtenay, told reporters in Belmopan that the mediation will only be as successful as the Government side wants it to be.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Belize National Teachers’ Union

“Mediation is usually, usually, just one meeting. It is an attempt where the people are allowed, in confidentiality, to put their different positions on the table and the mediator tries to encourage them to go one way or another, to resolve the issue. So we are in consultation, finding an appropriate date with the mediator, so that we can have the meeting. We have more than enough time to have that matter resolved, if it is resolvable. The point of the matter is that the Government has to take what I would describe as a more enlightened approach: you can see that the Union has the support, not only of the teachers, but of the people. The parents kept their children away to signal to the Government that their high-handed, arrogant approach to this matter is not what the people are supporting. So, my hope, my expectation, is that we can have a reasonable discussion, that we can find our way forward. Mister Palacio and his Union have always said that they are ready and willing, and they are going to make up the time. It is just a matter of sitting down and discussing it. There is no reason why that can’t be done; similarly, there is no reason why the question of whether or not they are to be paid, can’t be resolved. It seems to me, as I had said, that we need reason to prevail. There is a reasonable approach; there is a solution that is available, if we all just step back and make the mediation work.”

 

The Court is expecting an update on the progress of mediation by February.

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1 Response for “Teachers Hoping Government Will Be Reasonable in Mediation”

  1. Marie says:

    They should not be paid. They didn’t showup for work. They could have protested on the weekends or after work. The only loosers were the students.

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