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Jan 13, 2023

Senator Elena Smith Winding Down Last Term as B.N.T.U. President

Belize National Teachers’ Union President, Elena Smith will make way for a successor in six months’ when her term of office expires. Smith has served as national president for two consecutive terms, which saw governments change and unions protest prior to the implementation of the ten percent salary cut in the midst of a fractured economy. But while Smith has been able to be a strong voice for her membership, and for the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, which she represents in the Senate, there are a couple more accomplishments she would like to add as part of her resume during her tenure. She told News Five what those are.


Elena Smith

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

“One of the things that I would really hope that my team and I can complete before my term ends would be our collective bargaining agreement. That has been sitting around for fourteen plus years and we’ve had just proposal twenty-two that has been the outstanding matter. So I am really and truly hoping that we can conclude that before my term ends so that when the new executive comes in they can begin with a new C.B.A. It’s the same one that we had not signed off on that we had not concluded, and it was proposal twenty-two which deals with a lot of the issues that affect our secondary school teachers, for example, those teachers who only get seventy percent gratuity and pension from the government and then the other thirty from management. That is a huge issue for our secondary school teachers in our grant-aided schools. Then those secondary school teachers as well who are not getting their commuting or hardship allowance because when we initially negotiated that benefit, we didn’t have rural secondary schools. So there was no need at the time to include them. Having seen where we have rural schools now – secondary schools – those teachers have to be included in the commuting and the hardship allowances. Those form a part of proposal twenty-two along with the support staff as well, and inclusive of those community schools which must be able to identify a proprietor who the teachers can hold accountable for any benefit or anything that may happen during the course of their career. So I am hoping that the Prime Minister and his team would seriously look at us – including this at least before my term ends in June. Along with that would be the frozen increment that we are trying to work out and see how we can – what agreement we can reach as it relates to some sort of a compensation package for our teachers. And I know the government is saying that they will not compensate, but there are different ways in which we can compensate for sacrifices.”

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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