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Jul 20, 2020

B.N.T.U. Turns 50

The Belize National Teachers Union today achieved a milestone: it is a historic fifty years.  The powerful watchdog union is celebrating its golden anniversary under the theme, “B.N.T.U. @ 50: Defending, Empowering and Transforming Teachers, Students, and Nation” – fitting for a union with tremendous power and stamina.  Over the years, the B.N.T.U. has defended the rights of teachers and in so doing, it has faced off with governments over the last five decades. Even as it fought to improve conditions for teachers, one of its recent battles against the Barrow Administration involved national issues fighting against corruption. B.N.T.U. says that without a doubt, it stands as the most steadfast and vocal workers union in the country. Now due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the union could not hold planned celebratory activities, but today National President Elena Smith looked back at some of the union’s most notable achievements.


Elena Smith

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

“For us it is a huge milestone. We have a lot of struggles though the year as you would well know it is not easy sometimes working with or against the government and a lot of times you have to fight just to get what you rightfully deserve. So it has been fifty years of struggles to get at this point. We fight for the rights of workers. The things that we maybe should be most proud up, and especially our young teachers might not know that things like your thirty eight work week per the year as oppose to forty. It use to be forty weeks per year and it went down to thirty eight weeks. That came as a result of B.N.T.U. negotiations. Our maternity leave we know that that has increased. We’ve also had where our teachers are able to get commuting allowance, hardship allowances we use to get an allowance when we go for long leave. Long leave is what the union fought. For the nation as you know we fought a lot for good governance and it was through the work of the B.N.T.U. that we were able to have the government to sign on to UNAS. We have PAC. We have Integrity Commission. So all of those things even those that were dormant, the struggles, the fight of B.N.T.U. brought those back to life. We show that we are not just for our members only but we have a mandate to ensure that we fight for our national as well.”

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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