Teacher’s Union Claims Ministry ‘Bonus’ is Petty, Vindictive Union-Busting
As we reported on Monday, Minister of Education Patrick Faber confirmed that a million dollars has been set aside as a “honorarium” for teachers who showed up to work during the industrial action. That announcement doesn’t sit well with the trade union because teachers have been paid, regardless of their attendance during the protest. So is the Ministry of Education deliberately attempting to disrupt the power of the Belize National Teachers Union by offering a fee for service to teachers who did not participate in the eleven-day strike in October 2016? It’s a charge being made by the leadership of the B.N.T.U., who in a scathing press release, is calling out government for its attempt at union busting. While the number of teachers who are eligible for the additional payment has not been determined, President Luke Palacio maintains that the ministry is once again being petty and vindictive.
Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.
“In relation to the announcement by the Minister of Education that the Government of Belize has agreed to fund a million dollars to pay compensation to those teachers who did not go on strike and those teachers who reported to work on the days that they had initiated, or had requested, sorry. We at the Belize National Teachers Union see this, again, as a clear case of the government’s continued attempt at union busting. And we say this simply because we went to court, the court has ruled. The Chief Justice, the Honorable Chief Justice had asked us to go to mediation, on our own free will we agreed to go to mediation. The mediation process was fairly intense; in fact, we went beyond the prescribed time. But the atmosphere, the discussion seemed as one of which we were definitely arriving at some kind of amicable solution, if you will, to the problem. The position of the Belize National Teachers Union as it went to that mediation were two positions: one, that we were requesting that the salaries of teachers who went on strike not be docked and two, that the teachers were prepared to make up the time. The officials from the ministry insisted that they wanted six full days to make up the time. The B.N.T.U.’s proposal was that we were prepared to make up the time by having extra sessions or the school day to extend by half an hour each day for a maximum number of days which would have covered the six days and that matter should have been resolved. They insisted that they wanted six full days. In the final analysis, at the end they decided that yes they are not going to dock our salaries. In fact, the word that they used in the ruling or the mediation agreement was that they would abandon this position of the docking of salaries for teachers who were on strike. But the ministry now is making an about face in determining that they are going to compensate those teachers who did not go on strike.”