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Jan 31, 2014

Teachers march on Punta Gorda

On Thursday, teachers marched in Dangriga, and today the B.N.T.U. movement moved to the deep-south – Punta Gorda. This is the sixth and final rally planned by the union as a series of industrial actions. It might have started out as putting some measure of pressure on government where the salary adjustment is concerned, but it has grown to be a rally against corruption and injustice and a cry for better working conditions and good governance. News Five was in P.G. this morning for the march and has the story.

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Mike Rudon, Reporting

More than two hundred teachers assembled at the PG Sports Complex this morning before marching on the main street of the municipality and ending up for a spirited rally in Central Park. Like the others held in Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City, Cayo and Dangriga, the participation has been good, and the message has been united and strong. Official stats are that about eighty percent of registered union members took to the streets this morning.

 

These teachers have come under criticism by government, and have been accused of being all about money. They have been called ungrateful, and irresponsible and heedless of the children. But still they have stood strong and come out in numbers.

 

The man whom the Prime Minister has called the teachers’ wind up doll has led the charge…and this morning called out the government on corruption.

 

Luke Palacio

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

“When We are out here today we want our parents to understand, we want our children to understand, we want out students to understand, that we are fighting for them. We are fighting for a better Belize. How can we continue to see this and we are appalled to the serious rules of corruption in this country, when you are going to change the meaning of the word corruption to wrongdoing and distasteful. When it may be tasteful to the ones who are causing the corruption but it is distasteful to the rest of the Belizean public. And what happens, the entire board of the Belize Airport Authority removed and the good old Edmond Castro remains smiling. No corruption there. This is what we want our children to understand. When you look in the dictionary and you see what the word corruption means. Wrongdoing is not a synonym for corruption if you use the thesaurus. Distasteful is not a synonym for corruption if you use the thesaurus. What is corruption, corruption the synonym for corruption inna broad Creole dah yo thief. That is what corruption is.”

 

And while corruption has been one of the main pillars at every union rally, the teachers are also demanding better working conditions and social security reforms to benefit them.

 

Hilton Garbutt

Hilton Garbutt, B.N.T.U. President, PG Branch

“The chalk that is being used in these classrooms are affecting the teachers in many ways. We need better working conditions my brothers and sisters. Our teachers are being injured on the job unconsciously every day. Then there was the removal of corporal punishment without a good replacement and now our teachers are stressed more than ever with hypertension and diabetes. And these brothers and sisters lead again to the high absences of our teachers with low productivity, proper sanitation, lighting and ventilations is also their concern; our sidewalks, our walkways, my brothers and sisters. I end with the words of two me who speak free truth, let us not suffer in silence because silence will never protect you.”

 

The ending of the round of industrial actions coincides with a meeting held between the unions’ negotiating team and the Prime Minister. What has come out of that meeting will pave the way for future talks.

 

Luke Palacio

“My understanding that the meeting went on for about two hours, the three unions were represented at the meeting. The Prime Minister has indicated that according to the report that the salary adjustment will be anywhere from about three and a half percent. We again the three union s will have to meet, review the report, the presentation. I was told that the meeting was cordial, again we would not have expected otherwise because we are again showing how professional we are, how patient we have been and that we are determined to try and ensure that we get the best deal for our teachers. As soon as we get that report and the unions review properly what it is and past their impression and what there take is we will definitely bring it back to our membership in terms of what our position will then be.”

 

The council of the union will meet this weekend. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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2 Responses for “Teachers march on Punta Gorda”

  1. moses x says:

    Belizeans! Listen up. Corruption is the scourge of democracy. No country is immune to it. It is impossible to escape this scourge. Frankly, I am surprised at all the bawling you people are doing. You all know what the deal is,. Corruption is imbedded in the Belizean economy, politics and every other aspect of government. Hustle is the name of the game. The only way to stop corruption is by way of a totalitarian government or communism, where everyone is supposed to be equal. But even this system cannot stop corruption. You all are bawling like a virgin bride on her wedding night who didn’t know that she was expected to lie down and… (“fill in the blank”) . Everyone in Belize from top to bottom know that corruption is imbedded in our national psyche. So quit unu bawling, and lie down and … “fill in the blank”…Or do like the French Revolution..gather all dem theiving mothers up and parade them to Belmopan and chop off dem effing heads. There it is!! If the teachers really had the cohones, they would be marching to Belmopan with different intentions. People in power do not give it up; it must be taken away. Roll call…whose down with me?

  2. LOL says:

    I am with you!

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