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Dec 27, 2018

Teachers’ Salaries Docked, B.N.T.U. Seeking Legal Recourse

On Friday, the Belize National Teachers’ Union came out swinging at some school managements, calling them the Grinch that stole Christmas. That’s because certain school managements decided to dock the salaries of the teachers who participated in the November seventh demonstration in Belmopan.  More than a thousand teachers participated in the demonstration, forcing the Ministry of Education to address the issue of hardship allowances and time off to collect salary.  While the B.N.T.U. was given assurances that the ministry will not withhold salaries, it is ultimately up to school managements to decide whether salaries would be docked.  B.N.T.U. President, Senator Elena Smith, says the union is looking into the matter in order to determine if there is any legal recourse.

 

Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“We first knew about it I think it was the end of November pay which came to us in December and then in December we were told from other teachers in other managements that they too would have been docked. And so we made the decision that we were going to meet to discuss the matter. We are aware as a union that the rules do give the managing authorities to determine whether they would dock salaries or not. It is up to them. I had specifically asked one management and the manager had told me that she had not made the decision at that time when I asked her the question. When I met her face to face I asked her again and she said that she still hadn’t made a decision. So we weren’t sure. As far as we knew then, it was only one management and then we found out that other managements had done the same. So we thought that we would discuss the matter and see what it is that we can do as a union for our teachers who did receive that bad news at this time of the year. It depends on your salary scale and so it could be anywhere from less than a hundred dollars to over a hundred dollars depending on where you are on the salary scale. Well, we have to look at the manner in which the deductions were done and we have to go from that angle. As we said our teachers even though that the rule says that we have seen where the last time we had deductions made from us, our salaries were deducted was in 2005 when we all suffered for that long period of time. In 2016 it was threatened but it was not done because of the way it was done- the ministry had initiated that conversation and the rules are clear that it is the managing authority who makes that determination and not the ministry and so because of that matter we were able to take the matter to court and have that matter resolved. So what we need to do now is to look at what process the managements used in terms of determining how they will deduct and the reasons given for the deductions and based on that we will see what legal grounds we have to challenge that matter.”


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