Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, Miscellaneous, People & Places, Social Issues » Twelve Days and Counting; B.N.T.U. Strike Breaks Record
May 11, 2021

Twelve Days and Counting; B.N.T.U. Strike Breaks Record

The Belize National Teachers Union made history today. The union has been engaged in strike action for twelve days, the longest on record.  Back in 2005, the B.N.T.U. protested for a total of ten days, while in 2016, their protest lasted for eleven days.  Indications are that this time around, the strike will continue into the weekend.  Teachers have taken to streets alongside sister unions, protesting the Government of Belize’s now implemented salary cuts and increment freezes. The unions are also calling on G.O.B. to get serious about corruption by enacting more good governance legislation.  News Five’s Paul Lopez looks back at the green machine’s history of protest in Belize.  Tonight we look at the strike of 2005.


Anthony Fuentes

Anthony Fuentes, President, Belize National Teachers Union [File: January 13th, 2005]

“Do not play with our salary increase. We deserve it. We have worked for it. I must say also that the business community said we shouldn’t get our salary increase and I must remind the business community that it is the union that negotiated for salary increases for public officers and teachers. The raise that we get, we go and buy from them in their stores. So we deserve our eight and five percent salary increases.”


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Former B.N.T.U. National President, Anthony Fuentes made those remarks at a joint union press conference in 2005. At the time, the People’s United Party formed the Government. Prime Minister Said Musa was preparing to present an austere 2005/2006 budget on January nineteenth, 2005.


Said Musa

Prime Minister Said Musa [File: January 14th, 2005]

“Regrettable as it is and as much as it goes against the grain of a P.U.P. Government that is noted for having significantly reduced taxes over the past six years, we have to face the hard reality; new revenue measures are necessary. After consultation with the respective unions, therefore, we propose that the agreed increases in salaries for all public officers and increase for pensioners be staggered over the next three years beginning July 2005.”


This did not set well with the unions. In fact, violence erupted outside the House of National Assembly on that day. And by January nineteenth the unions were calling for a two-day nationwide shutdown.


Anthony Fuentes [File: January 19th, 2005]

“As a union we have made it abundantly clear to all our educators in this country that there will be a total shutdown of all the schools on Thursday and Friday. So we are advising parents not to send their children to school on Thursday and Friday.”


True to their word, teachers and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize took the streets in protest for two days.


Anthony Fuentes [File: January 20th, 2005]
“Most schools throughout the country have been closed in solidarity with the National Trade Union Congress of Belize.”


Janelle Chanona
“What exactly are you trying to push for, I know it’s the raise increase but what are you…?”


Anthony Fuentes
“It’s not only the raise increase. It’s the tax measures that Government says its planning to impose, along with that the mismanagement, and corruption in the Government of Belize.”


Janelle Chanona
“What are the teachers prepared to do if this doesn’t work?”


Anthony Fuentes
“This vigilance will continue and we will not stop until we get what we want.”


On the second day of the national shutdown, violence broke out on Independence Hill in Belmopan

Weeks of negotiations were held. And, by February eleventh of 2005, the government of Belize would give in to the unions. An agreement was made that public officer s and teachers would get their promised salary increases of five percent for senior officers and eight percent for junior officers and pensioners as of April first, 2005.


Prime Minister Said Musa [File: February 11th, 2005]

“The struggle for freedom and justice is never ending. And in that struggle trade unions have a major and legitimate role to play. Today we are witnessing another product of the militancy of trade unions. This one achieved with the corporation of a government that has demonstrated its belief in participatory democracy and social justice.”


That was the end of an era… A decade later the ‘green machine” would once again stage a national protest.


Elena Smith

Elena Smith, B.N.T.U. President, Belize District Branch [File: September 5th, 2016]

 “We did our rounds, all our branches had meetings and as far as I am aware, based on reports that we have received; that majority of them are saying that they want their adjustments now because the monies should have been there. The money should have been there and so our teachers, a lot of our teachers are not happy right now.”


Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez.


News Five will have more on the strike of 2016 in part two of our look back at the union strikes on Wednesday.

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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed