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Oct 16, 2017

B.N.T.U. Tries Again with Curt P.M.

The Belize National Teachers Union is giving Prime Minister Dean Barrow an ultimatum after receiving a terse response when the executive requested an update on the progress of the eight-point agenda presented to government last October.  In a letter to the P.M. dated October thirteenth, B.N.T.U. President Elena Smith insists that a comprehensive progress report on each of the agreements reached in October 2016, be submitted to the union by Friday or else.  Aside from the PM’s curt reply, B.N.T.U. also takes exception to the inclusion of other unions in the matter, since it was the teachers union that single-handedly engaged in strike action for eleven days for those demands to be addressed.  According to Smith, it is the second letter that has been sent to the prime minister.

 

Elena Smith

Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“The purpose of the letter was just to do just that, to ask him to give us an update on our eight demands so that we could have shared with our members because as you are aware, we were having elections countrywide at our ten branches and so we knew we would have had new persons around the table.  And so we wanted to share with them an update on what has been done or what has been achieved thus far as it relates to those demands.  So that’s what we were requesting.  Unfortunately, as you are aware, the Prime Minister wrote us, he responded by saying that we can get that update from the media, and so I’m hoping that maybe you can share something with me today that I can share with my members.  When council saw that response, council said that we had to respond and ask him again and let him know that our letter was a legitimate letter to him because we really wanted to update our members so that, again they know what would be our next step, and when I say what is our next step I mean, okay, we’ve gotten this far, what is it that we need to do to accomplish the rest of our eight demands. When we were looking at these eight demands, we were essentially on our own and so we met with him and we negotiated with him and nowhere in our discussions with the prime minister did we agree to include our other colleagues in those negotiations, except for the fact that we did agree that we would give up the OSH and have that dealt with by the N.T.U.C.B.  If you note on our eight demands, that wasn’t included and so then there was no need in our view for him to copy our letter to, or the response to those other unions and say that he would meet with us only if we all meet together.”

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