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Jan 2, 2019

B.N.T.U. President Says M.O.E. Has Disrespected Teacher

The Belize National Teachers Union says the Ministry of Education has disrespected its membership when it came out batting for the school managements that have docked teachers’ salaries for the November seventh demonstration in Belmopan. Last week, the Ministry of Education sent out a press release to say, “if a teacher is absent without authorization or leave, a management is expected to treat every such instance in accordance with the education rules…a call for teachers to withhold their service should not be done frivolously considering the impact on students and the possible consequences.” Well, the B.N.T.U. is not having it. Today, National President Elena Smith said the demonstration was not frivolous and that while they recognize that the managements may take certain decisions, the teachers have the right to protest.  The B.N.T.U feels that there is a hand behind the scenes pulling the managements’ strings.


Elena Smith

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

“I want to first address a point in their press release where they spoke about cause for teachers to withhold their service should not be done frivolously. Whenever BNTU takes any action, every action that we take has a purpose so we have never taken any action just because we want to take action. So for the Ministry to put something like that out there, to say that is what we did on November seventh is very disrespectful of them to say the least because they should know better. There was a reason why we were out there. In terms of the press release in general, and they speak about rule seventy-seven-four and indeed that says that a claim for payment of salary by a teacher in respect of any period of absence which is not approved may be disallowed. It does not say ‘shall’. It says ‘may’ and so the management then has the discretion to determine whether they are going to do so or not. Some of these managements are being paid by government. So do you expect that I am being paid by the government and I am going to go against the government? Of course not. We are fully aware of what the rules say and we do understand that the managements have the discretion. So they can decide to dock the salaries but at the same time as I said if it is that you want me to work with you, support you then there has to be some point in time when you see what I am doing as right and just. They want to use the rules to say that ‘we have a right to dock you for not working’ and as unions we have the right to take industrial action. That was given to us in our convention but yet you want to stop us from doing what we can rightfully do.”

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