Teachers’ Union Repairing Relationship with Ministry But Will Remain Vocal
The union says the financial hit to teachers would have been in the millions of dollars if the stand-off continued and the ministry followed through on planned salary deductions. There were times in the middle of the strike and afterward when it looked like the relationship between the B.N.T.U. and the Ministry would be sundered forever, or at least severely damaged. But business is business and Palacio says the two entities are working well enough together otherwise. He also told us that the union’s role as a voice in national affairs is vindicated.
Luke Palacio, National President, Belize National Teachers’ Union
“I don’t think so; as a matter of fact we have been meeting with Ministry; we’ve been to whatever boards or bodies we serve on jointly with the Ministry of Education; we’ve been at all their meetings, and the relationship is cordial. So I don’t think there is any ill feeling. We trust, again, that when we raise issues that concern us and concern our teachers, that again, good judgment and common sense must prevail and we discuss those matters before it gets out of hand.”
“How does this strengthen the position of the B.N.T.U. as a force in national affairs, because out on the streets people will take it that you took the mighty Government of Belize, the Ministry of Education, and won?”
“I guess that is the purpose of unions. We need to be able to, in this day and age – once we know we are acting within our right, then somebody has to be able to stand up to whoever; as long as you are protecting the rights of workers, as long as you are protecting the rights of citizens, and we must not be afraid. Because, calling out a Government or calling out anybody in authority does not necessarily mean you hate them; what it means is that you are not in agreement with whatever wrong they are doing, and therefore we need to be able to correct them from time to time, and hopefully again, they will see the other side, and the country will benefit in the final analysis.”