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Nov 7, 2018

B.N.T.U. Descends on Belmopan, Sending Strike Warning to M.O.E.

Starting at about nine o’clock this morning, hundreds of teachers from all branches of the Belize National Teachers Union descended on Belmopan, making good on a plan to fight for hardship and commuting allowances as well as respect. Wearing their famous T-shirts, a sea of green paraded along the Ring Road before gathering inside the Belmopan Civic Centre where inspiring, demanding and raw speeches carried their message. The teachers were resolute in expressing their discontent with the Ministry of Education. We have details of all the proceedings and here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

After organizing themselves in front of Belmopan Comprehensive High School, the steady flow of teachers, with their signature green shirts on, made their way through the Belmopan Ring Road. Chanting their ‘solidarity forever’ theme, teachers,  we estimate at over a thousand, took to the streets not only to flex their strength in unionism and unity, but also to send a clear warning to the Ministry of Education and Minister Patrick Faber with whom they are not pleased. The teachers are irate over what they describe as the continued and blatant disrespect by Minister Faber. The teachers want to complete negotiations on Proposal Twenty-Two as well as their hardship and community allowances and importantly they want to be respected.  The march began at around nine-thirty with National President Senator Elena Smith, joined by former national president Luke Palacio, leading the teachers to the Belmopan City Civic Center for the rally.

 

Elena Smith

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

“The ministry kept telling us different stories: we will meet you, we’ll give you a date later because we have to get together and agree on a date, we have to check our calendars. Then we get a letter saying sorry we will hear from the principals. So the ministry keeps moving goal posts and what does the B.N.T.U. do? We run straight to the post and we score the goal.”

 

The demonstration is their first measure to signal to the ministry that no matter how many times the goal posts are moved; they will stand strong for what they believe in, and that is that they deserve the allowances.

 

Arodi Montejo

Arodi Montejo, President, Corozal Rural Branch, B.N.T.U.  

“I remember on Sunday night we caught the bus from Corozal and the road was very, very muddy. We had the papaya trucks which made huge holes on the road and the bus just stuck and had all wheels just turning. We had to take off our tennis, sock and put our luggage on top of your head and we walked about fifteen minutes in mud and water. We walked to Copper bank and we reached there about minutes to twelve that night. Now imagine fire burn. You have to drive through Chunox to Sarteneja and then you take off for twenty minutes. You have to make sure you have your boat, canoe in your pickup truck because that is where you left it. There is a lagoon, and you will cross that lagoon and leave your boat their tied and walk forty minutes, your gallon of water, your bag and your luggage on your head and that is how they get there.”

 

Jorge Mejia

Jorge Mejia, President, San Ignacio Branch, B.N.T.U.

“It saddens me to see how our teachers go through daily disrespect form managers, ministry of education personnel, from some of the parents, from the community and to top it disrespect from some of the children. These injustices have to stop. That is why we are here to send a message to the Ministry of Education; please enough is enough. For god’s sake stop it and fix it. Teachers, I don’t know why, but everyone thinks that you are perfect human beings. That you do not need time off, that you do not need two hundred dollars, that you do not need your hundred percent pension high school teachers. For god’s sake who told you that we do not need it?  We need it.

 

For some teachers, the allowances are not enough for the sacrifices they face.

 

President, Benque Viejo del Carmen Branch, B.N.T.U.

“Government exists for one purpose: to make things better for all people. So if you are there to make things better for all people, then give us what we are asking for.”

 

Branch President, B.N.T.U.

“I ask myself how many times has the minister of mis-education worn a rubber boots, how many times has he rode on a horse, how many times has he drank water from the Mopan River. I can be asking you, how many times this and that. Maybe he has never done that.”

 

And if Minister Faber does not heed to the B.N.T.U.’s strong message, the next step could be strike action.

 

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

“So when you hear people talking out there that these teachers only like to strike, strike, they better not wait for us to strike because this is not a strike right now. This is only a demonstration. You know what a demonstration means? What do you when you demonstrate? You show right? So right now we are just showing them what it is that we can do but when it comes to strike, strike means something is going either through you, under you, on top of you, between you. So when that time comes for us to strike, whoever is in the way, we don’t care who it is, you are in the way you are going to get it. And we know fully well that when B.N.T.U. says it will give it, we give it!”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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