COLA’s Take on the Million Dollar Honorarium
Information to News Five is that some teachers in the Anglican and Government-managed school systems received as much as five hundred dollars each as their honorarium or reward for not participating in the Belize National Teachers’ Union’s strike last October and for going to the classroom. While that is not confirmed and officially the Ministry of Education says it plans to disburse the entire amount when it has the full list of teachers who will benefit on its desk, the move has attracted widespread condemnation from most sectors. There are questions as to where the money came from, why it was not put to different uses, and even whether it is a criminal act. But the bottom-line, according to president of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) Geovannie Brackett, is that there is no need for the bonus, since those who went on industrial action got the lion’s share of their demands which he says will benefit all, whether they were part of it or not.
Geovannie Brackett, President, COLA
“I think the justification given by the government to give these teachers who so called went to work while the strike was on, an extra pay for their hard work or their dedication. You would question dedication to government for payoff for the government I think that we at COLA cannot support that. The teachers who went on strike advocated for certain things and benefits and pay raise. Those teachers who never showed or went on strike will benefit from their advocacy. Now when you give them this extra that is more butter on it for what? They will get something that they never advocate on and you will reward them with more money? I think that is bribe money, that is because the government knew this election was upcoming and it was strategic to give an endorsement to those teachers that if you continue to sit, if you continue to fear, if you continue to support the government, that you will get a little crumbs. But the bigger picture that the other teachers went on strike for is being missed and we do not support that move. That is completely wrong, you do not reward people who are afraid to advocate and fight for their own rights.”