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Jan 29, 2013

B.N.T.U., N.T.U.C.B. and APSSM rally at the Assembly Building

After marching on the ring road, the gigantic crowd headed to Independence Hill for a three hour rally of speeches by branch representatives and other union leaders. Their cry was for salary adjustments and respect from the government. Police stood on guard throughout the event, but the demonstration started and ended peacefully. The unions now await a meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports on the rally.


Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The unions say about forty-six buses and private vehicles rolled in to the capital while the B.N.T.U. president said an estimated four thousand took to the pavement.  And after the road march, the unions converged at the base of the steps of the National Assembly as their leaders led with rejuvenating speeches.


Brother Z

Brother Z, Demonstrator

“Today when we are walking all over ring road, I saw the huge turnout. I think that is a clear message that we must get our salary adjustment.”


Their spirit and their measure would not falter in the hot sun and they were quenched by music.


Below the flag, solutions came in signs that read, “No need for C.E.O.s” and others raised questions raised such as two hundred and seventy-five million for cronies.


Keith Augustine

Keith Augustine, Demonstrator

“As you saw earlier in presentation, there is over two hundred million dollars being spent on cronies. Well to be exact, we can tell them where some of this money will be coming from. One, the Prime Minister and has mentioned and went on record saying that the economy is blooming—over seven percent interest on GDP. Also, he has successfully negotiated the superbond. I want to ask once more, “Why are we here today?” For respect and salary adjustment. Well I am kinda disappointed this morning because I was expecting Mister U.B. papalick to be addressing us this morning or has something to say about what we believe in this morning.”


Hilton Garbutt

Hilton Garbutt, Demonstrator

“They are saying things bad; they cannot find the money at this time. My brothers and sisters, let us ask them to go back to their contract officers; tell them to release ten percent out of what they are getting. My brothers and sisters, we want to tell the members of cabinet, take down your salary; give us ten percent of that. These guys are living it up and we, the lower class, we are suffering. My brothers and sisters, they keep purchasing new vehicles and they say things bad.”


Nuria Caliz

Nuria Caliz, Demonstrator

“I brought eight buses from the south. I was actually supposed to bring nine, but a couple teachers called last night saying that they were driving. So when I started calculating the numbers I said I won’t need that bus is so many people are driving. So I cancelled that. And today, my teachers ensured that they called me cause I said when you get there, shout out because I need to know that I am still bringing those numbers. And we are talking five hundred and twelve teachers strong. And when we sat at B.N.T.U.’s office on Friday, we counted over three thousand people on Friday. And today, people power spoke. I saw in my estimation because this government loves numbers—they love numbers—the police officers were stopping the buses checking, counting. At least we know that the money they claim that they have been paying us; that they have been wasting, at least they can count. Yes, today people, over five thousand, my heart started palpitating. I said wow.”


Though the throng was charged with energy, the noise was quelled by prayer.


Brother Howard

Brother Howard, Demonstrator

“We ask you to send special blessings upon all those present here today so through your infinite love, we may continue to do what you task us to do. That we continue to be ambassadors of our union; that we continue to spread the word that justice must prevail and you will allow such to happen. We also ask our heavenly father to remember all our brothers and sisters who have gone ahead of us; most especially our brother, John Pinelo. Again we take a moment of silent prayer to remember him and all our brothers and sisters who have gone ahead of us.”


There was a small uproar from the crowd which was riled up by the presence of the Minister of Education who walked past the assembly building.


Jose Sanchez

“Do you believe that there could be a comprise rather than simply saying that there is no funds? A comprise on the percentages that the unions are asking for?”


Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

Patrick Faber

“Well that is something that is yet to be determined. The government’s position at this time remains that it doesn’t have the funds.  I believe that that may well be the position right through because that is the simple truth; that these monies are not there. if you look at what figures the government presents—and of course those figures are being challenged by the unions—but if you look at the figures that even the unions presents, it still leaves a gap in the national budget of tens of millions of dollars. And until we are able to fill that gap, it doesn’t matter how much the kind of salary adjustment is being requested is deserved or how much it is going to alleviate conditions; the hard cold truth is that these monies are not there. and I think what the Prime Minister intends to do in our meeting on Friday is to say to people, these monies are simply not there, but how less we can ameliorate some of these conditions that teachers and public servants experience on a day to day basis.”


The Minister, in the company of two plain clothes officers, headed to the rear entrance of the education building to reach his office as the N.T.U.C.B. President gave the keynote speech.


Dylan Reneau

Dylan Reneau, President, N.T.U.C.B.

“It’s now Friday we have to hear what will be the outcome. And by Friday night, all of you must now and you will decide how we move forward. And you know your power; united for one cause. I want to say that I sat there all along looking at all the speakers and talent that came to this stage and I am pleased to know that the trade union movement is vibrant, is powerful. And I am looking forward to what will come out of Friday. I am looking forward because come Friday night as you say, we shall no our next course of action.”



The unions will not be moved until after Friday’s meeting with the government. But will they be moved to acceptance of the status quo or will they move to strike action? Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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3 Responses for “B.N.T.U., N.T.U.C.B. and APSSM rally at the Assembly Building”

  1. Rod says:

    Power to the people unu need fu demand this useless pm and gov resignation this is what you need to demand.

  2. Storm says:

    I’m no fan of this government that fails at almost everything, but I also recognize that it is ridiculous for any public employees to demand exorbitant wage increases. It can only come from taxpayers, and those people are suffering too. It wouldn’t be fair to take so much from the pockets of struggling Belizeans to give fat raises to any public employee.

    I would support a reform movement to study every dollar spend by GOB, and ruthlessly eliminate waste and corruption. Accomplish those two things, and there will be money to pay public employees better without raising taxes. It’s basic commonsense.

    Finally, the education system needs reform urgently, to fire failed teachers and train good new ones. We must invest in GOOD education.

  3. openbotheyesbelize says:

    “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its’ children”. Nelson Mandela. Like me add, “or the way it respects and dignifies the men and women who educate the nation’s youth.”

    The leaders of this country need to summon the courage it takes to lead. Find the money for these teachers. Make it happen.

    While you’re add it, secure the necessary funds to paint elementary schools (inside and out), plant grass on dirt-strewn campuses and improve child playgrounds and school recreational areas. I have a four year daughter who will be entering the school system next year. I have begun my investigations on possible school sites. What I see is frightening and appaulling: unsanitary bathrooms, inadequate schoolroom lighting, a lack of visual educational tools, broken chaulkboards, severe shortages of basic educational equipment and supplies, broken schooldesks, etc. Basic, and I mean BASIC, elementary infrastructure in total disrepair. The visual element of a clean, inviting school building and campus is just as important as the acitivities of learning happening within its walls.Especially for young, open-eyed school children. Get a clue.

    When one thinks of the millions of dollars wasted (and pocketed) on ill-conceived, boondoggle construction projects, the hundreds of BZ$35-50,000 vehicles driving in circles needlessly burning millions of dollars of expensive fuel, the uncontrollable budgets for politicians travelling abroad to supposively learn something about fiscal management and/or social infrastructure improvement, or the inability to reform an outdated and ineffective tax collection system, it is easy to understand why there is no money in the coffers to finance the most important element of any civilized society-the care and education of its children.

    Let us, for argument’s sake, throw out the construction/infrastructure and abusive GOB vehicle dollar waste. How in the world is this country ever going to collect tax revenue from businesses when this government allows the transaction of millions of dollars of daily sales revenue through a wooden drawer? Yeah, a wooden drawer. You know, the kind you put socks in! NEWS FLASH to the General Tax Revenue Department: years ago, they invented a thing called a CASH REGISTER. It produces a receipt of daily sales so a tax collector can see how much money you make every month. I find it absolutely amazing to watch million dollar retail businesses accross this country abuse this system on a daily basis. Sometimes these businesses use the cash register and give out a receipt, more often than not its a hand to hand transaction to the “drawer”, the cost being added up on a hand-held calculator. I do a lot of shopping and I would bet that one of three transactions use the cash register. Do you realize how many millions of dollars EVERY WEEK is never recorded as taxable income? Do you know why they call it a “cash register” folks? Because it “registers” the amount of cash transacted!

    The bottom line? Make all businesses eliminate the “drawer” and ring up EVERY transaction on a cash register with a sales receipt. Period. Make it the law of land. If you don’t abide, you loss your business license. End of story. That way a revenue official can make random checks for compliance and every business will have to show their monthly receipts and pay their fair share of tax revenue generated from sales. You don’t need a commission or panel to study this problem. You don’t need reform, a referrundum or public debate. You need policy, law, compliance and enforcement. Implement this simple and basic component of a tax collection system and you’ll collect millions of dollars of unaccountable revenues, enough money to pay teachers, fix school properties and pay police officers.

    An easy, simple, doable system to increase tax revenues. To complicated for you politicians? How about you journalists? There’s a story to investigate and put before the public, if you have the courage and ability to do so.

    This country’s priorities have gone askew. Until the politicians in either party begin to fully understand the repurcussions of this uncontrolable habit of self-indulgence for a privilaged few while the rest wallow in an undesireable state of poverty, this country will continue to travel down a perilous path of civil unrest, fueld by its inability to fund necessary social programs and get its financial kitchen in order.

    One last thing. If you can read this, thank a teacher. Open your eyes Belize.

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