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May 8, 2018

Why Teachers are Tit-for-Tat on Salary Deductions

On March twenty-second, hundreds of primary and secondary school teachers from across the country gathered in Belmopan to march on Independence Hill.  While the annual budget was being debated inside the National Assembly, the message outside of parliament was loud and clear – violence against women and children must end.  It was a peaceful demonstration which many would agree was justified, given the social climate at the time; that is, except for the schools management.  They decided, near-unanimously, that salaries for that day would be deducted from teachers who attended the rally.  That pay cut is being met with an equal, opposite reaction from the Belize National Teachers Union whose membership says it will withhold its contributions to their respective managements indefinitely.  Earlier today, B.N.T.U. National President Elena Smith explained how that decision came to be.

 

Elena Smith

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

“We had a meeting a week or two ago, probably about a week or so ago, with… It was a committee that was meeting and so the committee has on it management and it has ministry personnel.  And so, at that meeting we inquired whether it was true that managements would be docking teachers’ salaries for that day and we were informed by the managers who were present at the meeting that yes, they had a meeting two weeks prior to that and most of them agreed that they would be docking salaries for the rally that B.N.T.U. had.  So it was the management or the managers who informed us of that decision.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the cause however, for want of a better expression, it would seem as if though the teachers had a righteous cause for sinning; skipping school that day to go out there and protest to raise awareness and to send a strong message in terms of the crime and violence plaguing the country.  Why would they not see it fit to at least allow you guys to be paid for that day?”

 

Elena Smith

“Well, that’s a question, that’s the million dollar question.  Why would they think it fit to penalize teachers for standing up for these children that they have a responsibility for and that is the concern of our teachers, you know.  And especially the church/state managements, because as managers of church/state schools, you expect that the teachers would be teaching our students, you know, these Christian values and principles, one of which is that you take care of your brother and your sister. It makes one wonder, what really is it that they find important, or what are they thinking as it relates to crime and violence.  Do they agree with it?  I’m sure they would tell you no, but your action is saying something different.  And so that is our concern, that as managements of these schools that you would not see it right for your teachers to get out there and fight for these students and these women.”

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