B.N.T.U. Wins Major Victory on Makeup Time and Salary Deductions
Three weeks ago, the Supreme Court-ordered mediation between the Belize National Teachers Union and the Ministry of Education concluded. Today, the parties returned to Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin’s chambers with an update and we can tell you that it is a major victory for the B.N.T.U. In the aftermath of an eleven-day strike in October, 2016 which partially concerned national issues such as a Senate Special Select Committee on Immigration and the appointment of a thirteenth Senator, and issues closer to home such as the settlement of a delay in salary adjustments for teachers and public officers. Most of these demands were met but the Ministry of Education moved to deduct from salaries for striking teachers and to dictate, in the Union’s view, how and when to make up lost class time to school managements. The matter was taken to court and even while efforts at mediation were being made, a management and Ministry-approved schedule for the latter which saw classes resume on January third was not fulfilled. According to B.N.T.U. president Luke Palacio, both issues have now been resolved mostly to the Union’s satisfaction.
Luke Palacio, National President, Belize National Teachers’ Union
“We have now agreed that we are going to make up those days, as an order of the Court; based on our mediation; that we are going to give back six full days of classes. The first three will be done the first three days of the Easter break and the second three will be done on the first three days of our July vacation period. The Ministry has agreed with our position that they should not dock our salaries and so now that is a given; our salaries will not be docked. The Ministry has abandoned that position based on our agreement at the mediation. And so basically that is where we stand. We will encourage our members and our teachers to make up the time as have been agreed to, simply because the issue we had was not so much making up the time but the matter of the Ministry docking our salaries, or attempting to dock our salaries.”
Those dates, if you have a calendar handy, are April tenth, eleventh and twelfth, meaning that school lets out on the twelfth rather than the seventh as scheduled, and the third, fourth and fifth of July rather than the thirtieth of June.