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Oct 17, 2017

P.M. Turns Fire on B.N.T.U., Says Unions Must Do Their Part for Some of 8 Demands

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has responded in writing today to the Belize National Teachers Union, following a stern letter written by President Elena Smith, dated October thirteenth.  The B.N.T.U., in effect, gave PM Barrow until Friday to provide a progress report on eight demands made by the union last year during countrywide strike action.  In his response, with ample time to spare, the prime minister addresses each point, some in short sentences and others in brief paragraphs, but not before setting the record straight that it was Smith’s initial letter to him on September fifteenth that was disrespectful.  Beginning with the appointment of the Senate Select Committee, he affirms that the special working group has been functioning for almost a year.  While the PM maintains that he rejected from the onset the union’s argument that Minister Godwin Hulse was ambivalent as Minister of Police, he says that police investigation have led to a string of charges being brought against William ‘Danny’ Mason.  The stalling of an international investigation, he says, is the result of the B.N.T.U. being unable to finalize a suitable terms of reference with the Attorney General.  Elsewhere in his response, PM Barrow also acknowledges the signing of the UNCAC, as well as the resumption of the Public Accounts Committee.  As far as the Occupational Safety and Health Bill is concerned, he says that part of a tradeoff with the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in seeking the support of the business community, agreed that the OSH Bill could not proceed until discussions had taken place between the union and the chamber.  According to the PM, there is no update from the union whether those negotiations have commenced.  On the matter of the Social Security Amendment, PM Barrow says the ball remains in B.N.T.U.’s court.

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