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Jan 17, 2013

B.N.T.U. gets militant; a demonstration is set

For the past few weeks the leadership of the Belize National Teachers Union has been calling on its members to attend an important meeting to discuss critical issues. Those issues include the collective bargaining agreement, crime, the economy and the ICJ. Now, when the B.N.T.U. gathers en masse and with serious issues like these on the table, there is precedent to show cause for concern. The last time teachers got really riled up, in 2005, there was a countrywide shutdown.  The day set aside for the important meeting was today and schools all over the country were closed at midday to allow teachers to attend. News Five Carla Bradley was at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall for the militant meeting.

 

Carla Bradley, Reporting

Teachers packed into the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall to deal with pressing issues. First among those issues is the collective bargaining agreement between teachers and government. Word to us is that negotiations have stalled, due to government stating that it cannot afford to pay teachers their salary increase. We weren’t allowed to record today’s proceedings, but clearly teachers weren’t happy, and that’s an understatement. Their discontent in government not keeping its promises translated into a secret ballot, where teachers were given the option to vote yes or no on the question of having a massive demonstration in Belmopan on January twenty-ninth. B.N.T.U. Belize District President, Kathleen Flowers, wouldn’t give us an interview until official word from the national president, but she did raise interesting issues.

 

Kathleen Flowers, President, B.N.T.U. Belize District

Kathleen Flowers

“The national president will speak to those outcomes.”

 

Jules Vasquez, Channel 7

“So what is the outcome of the Belize District Branch?”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“We promised we won’t be holding interviews, but the only thing I can say to you is that our membership is willing to participate in the actions that the B.N.T.U. is planning.  At this point those actions, I cannot say, if they will be real or not because I don’t know what the results of the other branches are.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“We were told that the proposed actions include strike or a protest on the twenty-ninth in which teachers will not be in school.”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“Alright, you have began an interview which I do not wish to participate in. none at all. We will talk about it after the national president will give the national results.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“How soon will that be?”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“Monday. Monday because by Thursday they should be having a press conference.”

 

Giovanni Bracket, Plus TV

“So it was just a poll that was done here today?”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“Whenever we have special general meetings it is on an issue and we do either a voting or we poll our people. Today we voted; we did not just do raise of hands, we did secret ballots and that’s what happened here today.”

 

Jules Vasquez

“Are you all able to say the numeric outcome of that poll or are you all still tabulating?”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“No it has been tabulated already, but I won’t share that with media until I’ve shared it with my national office. I would be preempting that. So I would share it with the national office first and then afterwards have no issues sharing it with the media.”

 

Albert Ciego, Amandala

“Is the different salaries for the teachers a part of this?”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“That’s the premise of today’s meeting to deal with teacher’s concerns of salary increases and salary adjustments. But the outcome will come when we all meet together and we determine it at the council table.”

 

Giovanni Bracket

“Were there other questions that were being polled here as well?”

 

Kathleen Flowers

“And so you have continued the interview. So let’s say good evening and I will get in touch with you all based on what happens at the national council table. I have no problem when the council table has decided where we go.”

 

As you may have guess from that short interview, teachers voted overwhelmingly to have a national demonstration in Belmopan on January twenty-ninth. Sources tell us that it was actually five hundred and eleven to one, though that figure has not yet been made official. We understand also that teachers have already agreed on a plan of action which will go into effect if government does not return to the negotiating table after the planned demonstration. While we could not get an official position, it is reported that teachers in an overwhelming majority have also agreed to strike as the first step in that plan of action. Reporting for News Five, Carla Bradley.

 

Word from Orange Walk and Dangriga indicate that teachers in those branches are also fully on board with the demonstration and with the action plan and it is expected that the other branches will fall in line. As we’ve told you, the last time teachers went on strike in two thousand five the country was effectively shut down. 

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14 Responses for “B.N.T.U. gets militant; a demonstration is set”

  1. Storm says:

    I hope the teachers don’t take any action contrary to the interests of the students. If they do, we should all oppose them.

  2. Rod says:

    Their is no help for you teachers all the money that was for your raise is now in the bank accounts of the ministers in this gov. So you can forget about getting a raise and you know what unu deserve it for letting this pm and gov. Get away with all the corruption going on in the country so unu stop cry and from now on when unu see corruption unu need fu act then and there not sit back and be duped by his useless corrupt pm and gov .

  3. Concerned says:

    Come on, I strongly believe teachers should take action and strike if they need to. Government says they don’t have money, Faber says no moni di deh, so why pressure teachers to upgrade themselves? why pressure them to get their bachelors and masters if YOU FABER can’t pay them what they deserve? You arrogant, and you think you will win Gasper, da so you wanna be deputy leader????

  4. Dan says:

    Most of these teaches are unqualified. Now they want a raise…? Shame

  5. Ixchel Pop says:

    The teachers will strike and the unraveling of this government begins!

  6. sue29 says:

    I do agree with the teachers cost of living is outrageously high and the salaries remain the same…. what is the public service union waiting on ..public officers are also being short changed, I believe that all unions and associations need to come together and show the dissatisfaction with this corrupt Government.

  7. Virgosungal says:

    When teachers can learn to teach properly and efficiently….when our kids are taught the right way and come out from class dumber then when they went in…..then our teachers can ask for a rise until then….they need to shape up! Education has gone to hell!

  8. Ixchel Pop says:

    We fail to realize the valuable input that parents have in supporting teachers in the classroom…Society has deteriorated so much that the schools are seen as dumping ground for kids…unless u have taught in a school under the condition that are faced by our teachers then you can talk. Many times its teachers who really become parents, having to look for food and other basic necessities for the kids. It is a very unforgiving profession as teachers are often overlooked, under-payed and overworked. We know that the rates of inflation, rise in cost of living- there must be some type of increase. i think parents are disturbed because, with teachers going on strike, they have no place to dump their little brats. Power to the teachers and I will support them full force.

  9. Bon Fiya says:

    So Storm, when Barrow was Leader of Opposition and he cajoled the BNTU along with Dylan Reneau, Jackie Willoughby and the rest of the union leaders, and they shut down the country and there was civil unrest in Belmopan and the streets of Belize City these were not contrary to the interests of the students?

  10. dat just gud fu dem says:

    as teachers they should be wise enough to ask for benefits, not salary raise. Salary raise increases tax deduction, therefore reducing net income. I could never undersatand all these Unions asking for raises when you could achieve more through benefits…..just saying……but these are our teachers, go figure…….

  11. Storm says:

    Bon Fiya, I actually support a national general strike to bring down the regime and to force a total change, with a new and improved constitution. I also support arresting and putting on trial before “people’s tribunals” ALL of the crooked former public officials who we can lay hands on, and punishing them harshly. In my opinion both Musa and Barrow proved themselves to be extremely bad even dangerous leaders of the nation, along with many of their top co-leadership.

    But BNTU does want to strike to bring down an intolerable political structure, it wants to stop teaching the children so the teachers can get more pay. I do not support that selfish goal at the expense of the children. That is a separate matter entirely. I do not believe public employees should be allowed to strike for more wages, or at least not without having exhausted every opportunity to negotiate. If they don’t like their pay, they can find other work, or work in the private sector. Public employees enjoy great job security by law, and that advantage should be balanced by taking away or reducing the right to strike.

  12. Steve says:

    @ Storm. You will seldom find a teacher who will have not the interest of the child as a priority. Teachers are parents substitute for the students, a counselor, a friend the student trusts, many times food provider to the student. Many times Teachers make attractive classroom conducive to learning from his/her pocket money. Teachers have to make ends meet to deliver effective lessons in overcrowded, hot and dilapidated classrooms. Maybe Storm is so ungrateful to his teachers who helped him to attained his sound primary education. Remove the blind spec from yours eyes, Storm.

  13. Steve says:

    Power to the people

  14. solo says:

    The union is the power. If you are not a teacher you should not comment (Dan).

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