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Jan 10, 2014

“Teachers ga yu bak”…B.N.T.U. leads teachers to the streets of Orange Walk

Today, teachers from Orange Walk and Corozal stood strong and united, as the Belize National Teachers Union held rallies in those northern districts. The burning issue is of course the salary adjustment which has been promised to teachers and public officers. Government has agreed to make good on that commitment later this year, retroactive to April. In principle, that is exceptional news for those who have been agitating for so long, but the reality is that they feel some level of uncertainty in that commitment and there is no word yet on the quantum of the salary adjustment. Mike Rudon headed north, and stopped first in Orange Walk where the mood was peaceful, but the sentiment powerful. Here’s that story.

FOR VIDEO LINK CLICK HERE: BNTU OW RALLY

Mike Rudon, Reporting

This morning about three hundred and fifty teachers from Orange Walk Town and surrounding rural communities marched through the main streets of that municipality. When last we saw teachers united in movement, it was early 2013. The issue today, almost exactly one year later, is the same. These servants of the people want their salary adjustment. The date agreed was July, but recently Prime Minister Dean Barrow threw out August as the pay-day. That may seem like a small thing – only a matter of one month – but the tolerance and understanding of these teachers have been worn down, and there is no trust of politicians who bear gifts in principle.

 

Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

“For this type of thing not to continue, let us get it in writing. We have not disagreed that the salary adjustment will be paid in July, retroactive to April. That has never been a bone of contention. The matter had to do with the content of the address as it had to do with the date that he indicated…so we had to be wondering. And also the matter that he is saying that in addition to the increment…now the increment we have made clear over and over is not tied to the salary adjustment.”

 

Otilio Muñoz, B.N.T.U. President, Orange Walk Branch

“We are looking for one word, and that word is compromise from GOB, which is the Government of Belize, that they need to come up with what percentage they will be giving to us public officers and teachers – the salary adjustment, not an increment – that’s what we want and a black and white that will guarantee us, the public officers and teachers of this country, that yes, they are serious about addressing that salary adjustment to us this year.”

 

Silvia Marin

Silvia Marin, Teacher, Palmar RC School

“What we want is that the government takes us seriously, you know. For a very prolonged period of time they have not been able to really come down and say, okay then let us honour this bargaining agreement that we have. That should be done every three years but it’s not done. Although there are words…the Minister does express that teachers are going to get it, there is nothing concrete.”

 

The teachers are determined to stand strong. Many of them came out today even though the Ministry of Education condemns the action, and the closing of schools to facilitate this peaceful industrial action has been called irresponsible. Arcadia Carillo is a retired teacher with over fifty-six years experience in the classroom. She was a member of the British Honduras Federation of Teachers in 1949, and a founding member of the B.N.T.U. in Orange Walk. She took offence to that characterization.

 

Arcadia Carillo

Arcadia Carillo, Retired Teacher

“I think first of all the word irresponsible is definitely out of order…whoever said it…because we are responsible people. I can tell you from experience that teachers take money out of their pocket to help children. We pay children’s fees, we pay children’s books…we pay a lot of things because parents cannot.”

 

Silvia Marin

“I believe that there are so many things that teachers do in the classroom. Teachers go through a lot on a daily basis. And to question our commitment to the children – to me it is very offensive, because we give a lot. There are some lessons also that the children have to learn…standing up firmly for what we are doing right now is a just cause. We make up that time for the children in many other ways. So to say that we are irresponsible…that’s uncalled for.”

 

Otilio Muñoz

Otilio Muñoz

“The Minister has his own opinion, and he is entitled to that, but I can tell you that the teachers of this country are the ones who move this country forward. We are the people who make sacrifices. We are all professionals in one profession – we are police officers, we are nurses and doctors, everything in one. And every single person in this country knows that we teachers go through a lot of things.”

 

Luke Palacio

“We would not have expected anything else than the government trying to condemn this. But we need to let the Belizean people understand that this is our constitutional right…in our country the Constitution calls for freedom of association, there is the right for workers to organize and fight for causes that they believe may be affecting their members directly or the nation on a whole.”

 

For some of these teachers, and for those who support them, it is about much more than the salary adjustment. It is a matter of standing strong for what is good and right.

 

Lourdes Saldivar

Lourdes Saldivar, Retired Teacher

“I think that this road is being paved by people who are not afraid to talk and to stand up, but we have to do now, there is much that has to be done. And this being named the year of the worker…everybody is a worker, but who is paying for everything? It’s the hard work of what we call the ordinary Belizean. It doesn’t matter if you own a business, if you’re a teacher or if you’re selling by a stall on the roadside…we all have to work together, and fight together as well.”

 

Cañeros, themselves embroiled in a bitter struggle to assert and defend their rights, were also represented today at the rally. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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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4 Responses for ““Teachers ga yu bak”…B.N.T.U. leads teachers to the streets of Orange Walk”

  1. Rod says:

    It’s about time the teachers of this country get up for something and I personally respect teachers enormously but this action is the smallest reason for you teachers to unite and protest , you should be protesting all the killing of kids you should be protesting all the corruption going on in this useless impotent corrupt pm and gov. These are the things you should be protesting and you don’t need a union to do this you should be doing yourselves without any union because this union is in collusion with this gov. Can’t you teachers see what’s going on you think the unions would have given the pup a whole year to wait for a raise hell no wake up teachers march to the pm house.

  2. Kaila Moralez says:

    BNTU better be conscienctious that this crimeprime minister has a pattern of moving goal post for his ulterior motive., which never good. I am of the oppinion that the reason why the goal post for teachers raise of pay went from April, August, July is because the prime minister realized that April is not in the hurricane season, hence the reason he moved it all the way to August then to July which is still in hurricane season. The prime minister will pray we have hurricane so he can use the storm as an excuse not to honor the promise of Teacher’s raise of salary.

  3. sickntired says:

    High time people start wake up cause di country no di head nowhere. Only politickcians di mek any progress.

  4. me says:

    So, i heard Eric Chang is back in Belize……….

    How come we havent heard from him?????????

    He still a councillor, collecting a salary……he is accountable to the citizens of Belize City!

    Please get on this Channel 5!!!!!

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