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Nov 7, 2018

B.N.T.U. Garners Support from Unions, Political Parties

The B.N.T.U. was not alone today; they were joined by several other labour groups, including the Christian Workers Union and the Public Service Union.  The leaderships of the People’s United Party and the Belize Progressive Party also lent their support in the fight for hardship and commuting allowances.  While the mighty B.N.T.U. can take on the government on its own, the support of other groups elevated their spirits. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The teachers were not alone today. As they marched through Belmopan’s Ring Road, towards the Civic Center- teachers were joined by other unions whom leaders expressed solidarity with the B.N.T.U.  Among them was President of the Christian Workers Union, Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde.

 

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde, President, C.W.U.

“I think that anytime anyone whether it is a bargaining entity, employer, a minister, whoever it is tells a union outright that that matter is off. You can’t tolerate that. That violates the very spirit of how unions are supposed to operate. I double down on the fact that B.N.T.U. has every right to up the ante in response to that type in my view dictatorial actions on the part of the minister.”

 

Guest speakers at today’s rally were the President of the Public Service Union, Doreth Cayetano Obermayor, who called on the ministry to play by the rules.

 

Doreth Cayetano Obermayer

Doreth Cayetano Obermayer, President, Public Service Union

“The P.S.U. calls for sound, alternative responses. The P.S.U. also wants to see urgent actions to address this situation as it relates to the B.N.T.U.’s special Proposal Twenty-Two as a part of the collective bargaining negotiations with the Government of Belize. PSU also calls on the Minister of Education to engage the executive of the B.N.T.U. in dialogue to address the issue of hardship allowance, transportation allowance as well as other issue that other members have taken.”

 

While other unions are in solidarity with the B.N.T.U., the churches have been silent. Guest speaker, talk show host and pastor, Louis Wade, called out the churches which manage some secondary grant aided schools.

 

Louis Wade

Louis Wade, Guest Speaker

“Pastors and leaders, they control the managements and it is a downright shame when managements and principals are colluding against teachers, trying to put up hurry come up workshops, and mandatory activities and colluding with government. At least be neutral. At least managements be silent because at the end of the day you are the one cannot come up with the thirty percent. You are the ones, because you know, that you cannot come up with the thirty percent, you should be lobbying with teachers against the government, finding a way out. I want to challenge pastors and religious leaders, please go back to the bible.” 

 

Members of the Belize territorial Leaders lent their support. So did the Belize Progressive Party and the People’s United Party. National President Elena Smith, while accepting their support, was cautious and also sent the parties a message.

 

Patrick Rogers

Patrick Rogers, Political Leader, B.P.P.

“One hundred solidarity with the teachers. We made it a point to state that we cannot accept the collective bargaining agreements being carried out for ten years and being dotted off and signed off. So it is crazy for the teachers to have to be going ten years and be faced with what the stevedores are faced with at the Port where the employers are trying to strong arm the process, cherry picking the issues to make interim agreements on and by the time they are done all these interim agreements which are disadvantageous to the workers effectively become part of one big collective bargaining agreement.”

 

Elena Smith

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

“We don’t play punches with red or blue. And there is another green beside the B.N.T.U. and if that green comes along, that green will get it too. And if a yellow wants to come, you can come we welcome you but don’t you dare mess with the green machine.”

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“We in the People’s United Party believe that the teachers are the bedrock of our society and that we need to show that we support especially in a just cause when the teachers are saying that it is not fair to have some teachers getting their full retirement and others in the high school system not getting their full retirement benefits. I think it is unfair and we need to speak out on their behalf and to also tell the government that we need to be able to work closer with the teachers and give them the support that they need.”

 

Cordel Hyde

Cordel Hyde, Deputy Leader, P.U.P.

“I think it is sickening that every time the teachers have to demonstration over fundamental, straight forward, simple issues in a lot of instance but we have a minister who is so petty, so juvenile and so difficult with the teachers. Every issue has to be a world war and it should not be like that. The teachers feel like they have to be out here and we have to be out here with them because anything for them.”

 

Orville Melendrez

Orville Melendrez, Member, B.N.T.U.

“I see members, and I say this quiet hesitantly, of the People’s United Party. Well I have a message for you; you see what is happening here? If at any time you feel that you are going up in the hill, we will be back here if you mess around. So quiet respectfully, I thank you for your support. You are here with us. You share with the plight of the teachers. “Oh those poor loving teachers. Why is it so unfair? Why is it that the U.D.P. administration treats them so unfairly? We will never do something like that.’  I saw the leader of the P.U.P. this morning and I say to him take heed.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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