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Jan 18, 2013

Standoff between government and teachers

Teachers countrywide have voted resoundingly to hold a national demonstration in Belmopan on January twenty-ninth. And if that doesn’t get government’s attention, then they are prepared to go on strike. The biggest issue on the table is a salary adjustment of thirty percent requested by teachers due to the high cost of living. Government says that at this time it is in no financial position to give teachers what they want. So as far as that goes, things are at a stalemate. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education are on exactly the same page on the issue. Duane Moody reports on the stand-off between government and teachers.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

At a meeting held Thursday by the B.N.T.U. Belize District Branch, five hundred and eleven teachers voted to have a demonstration while one voted no. Almost that same amount voted to go on strike if government doesn’t fold. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education say that it’s not a matter of not wanting to give the teachers what they are asking…they just can’t afford to. And they are that the teachers would even ask at this time.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I really am disappointed and troubled. Lord, we are at a point where you look around you in Jamaica in St. Lucia where governments are being obliged to retrench to raise taxes. We found ourselves in a position where we simply could not sustain the servicing of the superbond after the step up of eight point five percent interest rate, without in fact increasing taxes and slashing spending. As we tried to negotiate or restricting, you know the pressure was put on us by the IDB by the U.S. Treasury to get into a program which would have required firing public officers including teachers; which would have required raising taxes.”

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Ministry of Education

“We’re saying we want to do this in a way that is homegrown us here that will not cause; we’re asking people to cooperate and to understand that nobody is being fired, nobody is being sent home. I don’t think the Prime Minister is intending to raise taxes—although he will have to say that—but there is no kind of move in this direction. And for that I think that we should be happy in this country that we’re moving in that direction. Because in other countries—countries that are close and dear to us—this is indeed the move; to cut the workforce and to raise taxes and do whatever else is the normal IMF prescription for improving the economy.”

 

And that is why, said the Prime Minister, this is the worst possible time for the teachers to have taken a hard line, because with other economic issues like the restructuring of the super-bond in play, that position can have major repercussions on the state of the nation.

 

Dean Barrow

“For at this juncture, the teachers to be demanding a thirty percent increase, sends completely the wrong signal, compounds the difficulties that we are experiencing in trying to nail down a restricting deal. And in my view, puts the larger national interest of the country in jeopardy. We don’t even have enough money to service the current debt. If we succeed in the restricting and we are pretty confident we will, as I’ve explained, what it does is to close the financing gap considerably so that we won’t have to raise taxes which nobody wants. The only way then we could pay any salary increases would be if we did raise taxes. If we did say we wah ker up the GST to twenty-five percent; if we did say we will put additional taxes on fuel. How can the teachers ask us to do something which will prejudice the vast majority of Belizeans in a fundamental way?”

 

The Prime Minister reiterated that it is not as if government is ignoring the teachers or has not tried to work with them. He says that it is just not possible to give them what they want at this time, and while he regrets it, that is the reality of government’s fiscal position.

 

Dean Barrow

“We’ve worked out a situation where there is a partial agreement—we were negotiating jointly with themselves and the P.S.U. we worked out an agreement where we are doing something by way of allowances. We are doing as much as we can. Every year, every year, public officers and teachers get the salary increment which represents an off the top ten percent increase in the emoluments that we have to pay. It also represents something like a three percent increase in salary. You don’t call it increase in salary, you call it increments—but that’s what it amounts to—and that’s been higher than the rate of inflation. So while we would want to do more, while they perhaps deserve more, the plain fact is that it cannot be afforded in the circumstances and in my view their determination to go on strike or to mount a protest action is in all the circumstances, extremely regrettable.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Minister Faber also told the media that he is confident that the teachers will not go on strike. According to Faber, the BNTU will not use that sort of action without the support of the umbrella NTUCB. But only time will tell if Faber’s optimism is founded.

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23 Responses for “Standoff between government and teachers”

  1. Storm says:

    A 30% wage increase is a bad joke at best. It is totally out of balance with the economy, FAR above the increase in the consumer price index that measures inflation. It would certainly give the teachers an unfair advantage over the poor Belizean taxpayers whose money they want to take. And it would be a major factor in what is called “wage push inflation” — higher wages create an upward pressure on the price of consumer goods. So prices of everything go up for ALL Belizeans, but only the teachers get raises to cover it.

    How about 30% wage increase for EVERYONE in the Jewel? How about 30% increase in prices for EVERYTHING in the Jewel? Those demands make just as much sense.

    Economically the demand is a non-starter, and if the teachers don’t want to be sane, it will not be possible to negotiate seriously with them.

    I think public employees should have the right to organize and strike, or job security, but not both.

    The system of hiring, promoting, and paying teachers really needs to be addressed for what is in the best interests of the children. Teachers should receive pay raises based on merit, because they are not all equally effective, they should not all receive equal raises. There must be a better process to fire or lay-off teachers who perform below expectations in any way. Poor teachers do a lot of harm to the students entrusted to them, because they fail to educate them to the best level to succeed in life.

    I know there are two sides to those issues, and both can be argued. But nobody can argue with a straight face that a 30% wage increase is warranted or even possible. The teachers need leaders that live in the real world, not a fantasy.

  2. Belizean says:

    I am 100% with the teachers. Cost of living has gone up drastically and so is keeping the classroom. All those things that ministry is demanding to have in the classroom, they’re little pay can’t afford to buy. It’s like keeping two houses and both houses are full with children.

    What I’ve observed is that only individuals who are single can afford to maintain a classroom. Others are struggling.

  3. jungle says:

    Mr. Barrow, you can not afford to raise the teachers salary now, many excuses you are saying, but if you can just look back of what you did before the christmas giving money to each of your ministers for hands out, the question is, where did you get that money for hands out for christmas? the goverement make millions of dollars from BEL, BTL and the exportation of oil, stop the play with our teachers, they work very hard, give them their raise, when you talk about the country do not have money, where do you find that money you spend to pay attorneys, tens of thousand, where do you find that money you pay gang leaders every month, those lazy people do not want to work and you feed them free from tax payers money, where is you sence, in your a….

  4. Silent Teacher fear for my job. politics! says:

    Faber and Barrow stop giving your employees free gas and use government vehicle to go around the country on weekends. Stop having affairs with the women who works in your offices that give out the gas vouchers. But then they want to keep their jobs too.Some of these government vehicles you see every weekend at sports events and other places. this is one way to save some money. Do not try to hold the teachers back. You know how many good teachers are out there who have to work with the basics who help the children buy using money out their own pockets to buy pencil and other supplies for school children. Shame on you Faber. You took away a vehicle from people I know the next week your brother crash one. Many of those teachers get no recognition because they are not prepared to have affairs or have relatives who have affairs with some one at the top.

  5. Silent Teacher fear for my job. politics! says:

    I made some mistakes in my above comment because I am on the road and trying to type fast. Sorry to the readers.

  6. ed says:

    you got it right on jungle.

  7. Southern says:

    GOB cannot afford to raise teachers salary but they can find money to pay wannabe gangsters n criminals? Such a shame.

  8. Carlton Valentine says:

    The Officials of the Government of Belize are correct that the country cannot afford a 30% increase salary increase for teachers. Belizeans must wake up and not allow the Teachers Union from destroying their country. The Belize Teachers Union must consider the impact of this ridiculous demand on the entire country and its citizenry.

  9. Mick says:

    Where it concerns teachers, they are always being “unreasonable” as far as the powers that be are concerned! If this is not a good time for the teachers to stir the pot, when is? It is never a good time. In the past, teachers have been so complacent that the politicians think that they can ride roughshod over these professionals! These are the people we should be pampering, yet they have always been the forgotten ones! Another contributing factor to this is the type of directives that come from the asdministration of the Education department. The department should make sure that they include the teachers, those on the frontline, in their decision making. The minister and his team should be on notice, love don’t live here anymore. I implore the teachers to stick by their stance cause that is the only way there can be some change. Compromise, and grudgingly. I can omagine there will be some petulance from the minister and his set! I await!

  10. aldo says:

    I personally think teachers are lazy unproductive and overpaid. So much of tax dollars is spent on education yet our passing standards is terrible . Some many disgusting issues but I will mention only one. They take half a day to be able to cash their checks. Jesus they get paid for that and on top short the education system.

  11. Genotu Rembiuos says:

    BARROW !!!
    WE HATE TO HEAR YOUR GARBAGE !!!
    STOP PAYING GANGS, PLEASE DO, STOP BEING A STUPID LEADER !!!
    PAY TEACHERS INSTEAD !!!

  12. CEO says:

    It is very easy to say you cannot compensate the teachers adequately. Good leaders find a way especially for something this important.

    Between all the waste and very valuable hard wood that was turn to ashes I am sure money can be found if you really want to lead.

    Belizeans need to start holding their elected officials accountable. These guys are suppose to serve you the people; you the public, not behaves like little gods after elections.

  13. Belizean Pride says:

    I totally agree Genotu R.

  14. Truth says:

    Stand Up for your rights!!! Mismanagement and incompetency is not our fault . you were placed to govern our country not to pocket and greedy up yourself. Shame on you all present and past governments cause if you had governed properly and had the country’s interest, this would not be happening.

    But no its all about me,me, me and what I can get and how much i can get.

    Power to the PEOPLE!!!

  15. Buju says:

    I agree that teachers need a raise in salary! But on the other hand all government employees need a raise

    I would be very hard to the government to give teachers alone a salary increase and leave the rest of us out in the cold.

    Things are getting hard and I am feeling the pinch as well! Simple things can make a huge difference as the SILENT TEACHER comments noted:
    1 – take away vehicles from people on weekends

    The funny thing about people is that they we don’t look at the big picture we could care less where the money will come from for the budget but we went a salary increase. What is messing up the UDP is they are squeezing the people and saving up money and wen the PUP come into power the next general elections they will squander away everything and don’t give a damn

    AND THAT IS WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT!

    Once they di get something they no care!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Think bout it and tell me if i am wrong!!!!!!!!!!

    I hear countless people say boy PUP this and PUP that but the PUP HANDLE ME GOOD SO i hgave to deh with they

  16. unknwn says:

    all government employees need a raise

    I would be very hard to the government to give teachers alone a salary increase and leave the rest of us out in the cold….YEAH I TOTALL AGREE WITH THIS..WELL TEACHER ALWAYS GET A RAISE OF PAY ..TOO MUCH HOLIDAYS FOR THEM, LONG LEAVES ..EVEN STUDY LEAVE..THATS NOT FAIR FOR OTHER GOVERNMENT WORKERS..SOME EVEN GET SCHOLARSHIP TO GET HIGHER EDUCATION ..MAJORITY ARE PRIMARY EDUCATION TEACHER ENROLLED IN UNIVERSITY… ONCE THEY GET AN INCREASE OTHERS SHOULD ………..

  17. mer says:

    governmentt employees need a raise

    I would be very hard to the government to give teachers alone a salary increase and leave the rest of us out in the cold….YEAH I TOTALL AGREE WITH THIS..WELL TEACHER ALWAYS GET A RAISE OF PAY ..TOO MUCH HOLIDAYS FOR THEM, LONG LEAVES ..EVEN STUDY LEAVE..THATS NOT FAIR FOR OTHER GOVERNMENT WORKERS..SOME EVEN GET SCHOLARSHIP TO GET HIGHER EDUCATION ..MAJORITY ARE PRIMARY EDUCATION TEACHER ENROLLED IN UNIVERSITY… ONCE THEY GET AN INCREASE OTHERS SHOULD ………..

  18. bmp chic says:

    aldo your an A**

  19. Nadine Harris says:

    I agree with “mer” that not only the teachers need a raise but all the other Public Servants are invited to join in the demonstration.

    I happen to know from personal experience that A very dear friend of mine was recently fired for petty reason.

    When the BNTU asks a certain Minister for a meeting with him to discuss our concerns and issues, he wont even give us a minute, but yet he later turn to us, the UDP supporters, of this country, and try to convince us why he would make a better Deputy Party Leader.

  20. Steve says:

    I wonder how Aldo made it through primary, secondary or (university if he went). Was it because he had lazy teachers in all these institutions? Maybe disgusting issues Aldo fails to mention include the teachers’ challenges to discipline his children and to provide caring attention!

  21. Steve says:

    I wonder which lazy teachers helped Aldo through Primary, secondary or University (if he went, I doubt because of his blog)?

  22. john says:

    i agree with you bmp chic that aldo is an A…….ole he is a blind follower of wheel barrow

  23. voice of reason says:

    all of u who said the teachers dont deserve it, can jump off a clift an kill yourself, cause u sound just as dumb an stupid as barraw when he said he didnt negotiate or pay known gangsters…………thats why belize will nver get ahead because too much of you stupid people with ignorant mentalities is walking around wirh an opinion. shut the hell up an sat down somewwhere, if u dont know ish……..the teachers deserve more than 30 percent…….aheee does mio…….mi people

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