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Sep 30, 2016

Junior Minister Defends Against Claims of Union Busting

Elodio Aragon

Earlier this week we told you about Government ministers on the ground talking to teachers – asking them not to strike on Monday. So, today we caught up with Elodio Aragon Junior, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports and we asked him if he has approached teachers about the issue. He said he hasn’t done so in a formal capacity as a Minister, but the majority of teachers he has spoken with in Orange Walk will be showing up for classes. But are the actions of his fellow ministers union busting? Aragon says not so. Here’s what he had to say on the matter of the teachers and the B.N.T.U. leadership.


Elodio Aragon, Minister of State, Education, Culture, Youth & Sports

“Not, really. Not really. I have spoken to a number of teachers but not on an official level, per se. I haven’t been to the schools to speak to the teachers as a body, but I have spoken a lot of individual teachers. A lot of them in Orange Walk are telling me that they will be reporting back and ensure that they will report for school on Monday. I do believe that the issue at hand right now has moved from worrying about the three percent to now more a political issue – agenda. I have said it already on the talk shows that I have been on, that it has diverse itself from the core issues that the teachers had in terms of their three percent. This is something, as a nation, that all teachers have the rights to demonstrate and voice their sentiments, etc… That is what democracy is all about. I have no problem with the teachers. I support teachers. I just think that the leadership of the B.N.T.U. has taken this political. All the eight points that they have been discussing, have been eight points of national issues that the P.U.P. have championed.  Eight points, which, as far I can see, some of these things are unreasonable. When they make direct request for the removal of Minister of Police; they are now dictating to a duly government who gained and won elections and now they are dictating to them that this Minister needs to be removed. When you look at issues in terms of the integrity commission, the Prime Minister has already mentioned that they are willing to work on this thing. The government is willing to work on this thing. Today, it is one union of three unions that is hell bent on a strike. On a strike. To come and do industrial action. My point is simple, this is not about a labour dispute again. This is not about a three percent or any kind of condition of service. This is now about personal, political agenda. I think that the teachers should not be persuaded into that kind of stuff because it takes away from what they really stand for. I do think that at the end of the day, I would personally request for all our teachers for them to go to work on Monday. I do think that yes, a promise was made to them for three percent and I think that is where they should focus on. I do believe that we have a responsibility as a good government to ensure that we keep classes open and ensure that our young people get education that they rightly deserve. And if you call that union busting because we make preparations to ensure that we have teachers available to teach our young people, then maybe it is union busting. But in the eyes of the government and me personally, it is only about preparing to ensure that education continues in our schools.”


The media caught up with Minister of Education Patrick Faber in a separate event in Belize City this afternoon; however, he out rightly refused to offer any comment on the upcoming teacher’s strike. According to Faber, everything he needs to say- has already been said.

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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