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Jan 30, 2014

B.N.T.U. shows muscle in the Culture Capital

The Belize National Teachers Union showed muscle today in Dangriga. The teachers of the south want their salary adjustment…they want to be respected…they want better working conditions and they want corruption in government to end now. Those demands rang out in Dangriga today as teachers marched on the culture capital under the B.N.T.U. banner. This was the fifth in a series of planned peaceful industrial actions to be held in the ten branches of that union. Meanwhile, the discussions continue, and in fact as the teachers rallied the union negotiating team was meeting with the Prime Minister in Belmopan. But for teachers this morning wasn’t about discussions or negotiations in the hallowed halls of Cabinet – this was about sending a strong and united message. Mike Rudon was in Dangriga this morning and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

The culture capital came alive this morning as about three hundred teachers marched in solidarity. They were spirited, loud and resolute. If there was any fear of intimidation it wasn’t apparent today. They walked the main streets, singing union songs and even some they made up for the occasion, with the Prime Minister and his Minister of Education featuring prominently, if not positively, in the lyrics. They got support from onlookers, including the representatives of this union who stood with signs held high, proclaiming that they support the teachers one hundred percent.


Glen Lewis

Glen Lewis, President, Southern Workers Union

“We believe that the teachers all need the adjustment so that they can perform their duties to the best of their abilities. That the next generation of Belize will be well taught.”


Pastor Llewelyn Lucas, Southern Workers Union

“We are standing with the teachers simply because we believe in our children, we believe in our young people. And we are hoping that our future will be netter and now is the time to invest in that. Not next week, not next year and finding excuses won’t cut it. Change must come, it must start with us.”


The addresses from the podium have been fiery in all the rallies thus far, and today was no exception.


Troy Coleman

Troy Coleman, Vice-President, B.N.T.U. Stann Creek

“And they say this is about the money. They are about the money because they have all of it. We are about our children who we care for and we love. Tell your students today or tomorrow that you do not have a day of math because your teachers want to save your country for you. Tell your children tomorrow that your teachers don’t teach language arts today and yesterday because you are there to make sure that the opportunity for you in the future. Tell your students tomorrow that that no social studies yesterday or today because you know what, we want to make sure that we have less corrupt ministers in government.”


Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, BNTU National President

“The Prime Minister has called me a wind up doll well the message to his m is this that I am unwinding and because I am unwinding he has to deal with me. He will continue to deal with me and the B.N.T.U. because this train is not going to stop. He also called me a prisoner of the teachers. Yes I am a prisoner to the teacher, but I listen to my constituents and that is why I am in Dangriga today.”


As it has been also, the concerns ran the gamut, from the salary adjustment to Social Security and Income Tax reform to better working conditions and an end to injustice, abuse and corruption.


Myric Flores

Myric Flores, Teacher, Sacred Heart School, Dangriga

“The truth is that teachers have recognized the corruption in this country. Teachers have realized how much effort we have pit in to work for the development of the nation. And we are solely here to express our displeasure for the corruption; we are here to ensure that the government lives up to their commitment for the salary adjustment, the social security and many other issues.”


Mike Rudon

“Now they are also been attempts to intimidate the teachers, have you all been intimidated?”


Myric Flores

“Certainly not, if you look at what we have out here today, teachers have not been intimidated with anything the government has to do.”


Mike Rudon

“So you all will stand strong?”


Myric Flores

“We certainly will, if you deal with one you deal with all.”


Luke Palacio

“What is substantial to him will not be substantial to us. He has gone on record, and again in bad faith, gone on record to sat that that salary adjustment will not be more than three percent. What is substantial about three percent? Nothing at all.”


Aaron Garbutt

Aaron Garbutt, Teacher, Independence

“We’re not taking a holiday because we still have to come to school tomorrow. All the town schools, we will have classes to come to, so it’s not a holiday we are taking. And like the speaker said, we have a right to stand and we are not taking anything away from the students because we are standing up for them.”


Elizabeth Zaicevs, Teacher, Holy Ghost School, Dangriga

Elizabeth Zaicevs

“In my book, it’s just basically about respect. I think the teachers deserve a lot of respect. It doesn’t matter if it’s corruption or salary increase, they just have to respect us. We are the educators of this country.”


And today, as the teachers stood for their cause, there were parents who stood beside them to show support.


Bernadette Buckley

Bernadette Buckley, Parent

“They work hard for the children, with the children, they even give them extra classes, especially for the children who can’t read good and I see it here in Dangriga.”


Mike Rudon

“So you are hundred percent behind them?”


Bernadette Buckley

“I am a hundred percent behind them.”


Desiree Diego

Desiree Diego, Supporter

“I’m out here supporting the teachers; rallying with them for a worthy cause, because I think they deserve their payments and that they are demanding so much of the teachers and their giving is very little to the teachers.”


The addresses lasted until well after midday. And it was verified that contrary to assertions made, these teachers will be in the classroom on Friday. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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4 Responses for “B.N.T.U. shows muscle in the Culture Capital”

  1. BelizeanInAsia says:

    Kudos to the teachers! You are so brave and with this sort of motivation and boldness to stand for the right despite threats and despite possible bad consequences surely sends a message to Belizeans at large that we need to be of the same spirit. God Bless you and keep on keeping on.

  2. Ali BaBarrow, the god of 40 says:

    Teachers, students and citizens of Belize will never have respect as long as corruption rots from the head of the government, regardless of the party.

    When this band of thieves, parasites to the nation, are amputated from the leadership, and we know the depth of their corruption and have sent them to prison for what they have done to the nation, then there is respect for teachers, citizens, and government.

    As long as people know that there is no justice because criminals run the country, and that no one has the courage to stop them, who can you respect? yourself? your neighbor? a fellow Belizean?

    Even small children know this.
    And if the adults don’t care, they get that too as to what life is all about, that their future is lost.

  3. Rod says:

    Get rid of these unions then you can get an even bigger raise instead these unions will eat up the money due to you they are in collusion with this gov. .

  4. LOL says:

    All of them should gather at the capital for one massive protest and bring all the other unions that are in Belize. All concerned Belizeans should go and protest too. Just do some reading on what is happening in Thailand and Ukraine. Thailand’s PM immediately called for new elections as a result of the massive protest in that country. Hell the people went ahead and seized control over many government buildings. Now if only we can do that here in Belize..

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