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Mar 5, 2014

B.N.T.U. says its teachers can go to the rally

Luke Palacio

The Belize National Teachers Union, despite permission being granted to its membership by the Ministry of Education to attend the rally, also finds itself in the middle of the standoff between the Special Envoy for Women and Children and the Roman Catholic Church. According to National President Luke Palacio, teachers are simply being advised to exercise discretion, since the union has also planned a separate demonstration to coincide with the annual budget presentation in Belmopan on Friday.  Palacio says that while B.N.T.U. represents a significant number of schools which fall under Catholic management, it also expects that the rally will be attended by teachers from other religious denominations who do not share a similar view.


Luke Palacio, National President, B.N.T.U.

“When we look at what we have dubbed as a double standard is simply because the issues at hand…if we are talking about people having their constitutional rights, the last time the unions indicated that they were going to be having these rallies throughout the country, there were all sorts of negative statements made implicating the teachers as being irresponsible, unprofessional, etc. On the other hand, the Ministry now says to teachers you can go to this rally and you will not suffer any types of consequences. The Catholic Church, which manages the largest number of schools in this country have sent out their take on the matter of this women rally. The B.N.T.U.’s position on that matter is that Catholic Church has its policies, its principles; what it believes in. And so therefore if they are saying to the teachers in their management that it don’t believe that they should go there, our position on it as the B.N.T.U. is that we are asking our teachers to use their discretion. In terms of what the Chief Education Officer has undertaken and has written in a memo to the managements and to the schools and to the union in relation to Friday’s demonstration, again seems to indicate to us that there is a special effort being made to intimidate our teachers. We’ve said to our teachers from day one, the rules are clear—rule one hundred and two—as amended in the school rules, we note they have taken it a step further as far as we have been informed. They are now threatening our teachers—and we have been told that this is being done by some managements and in some instances, some education officials—that they will be docked for three days. We want the ministry to inform those managements or to correct this memo to clearly indicate to those managements that the rules are clear—rule one hundred and thirty-three in Education Rules 2000 states clearly that Saturday and Sunday are non school days. So we are saying to them that they are not going to dock our teachers’ salary for Saturday and Sunday because ordinarily they would not have been at work at any rate. And we need to make this absolutely clear. And Monday is a public and bank holiday so I want to know if they would want to dock our teachers pay on Monday. These type of things, again we are saying to the members of the B.N.T.U. and the Belizean public in general who are supporting the teachers in this initiative that we are undertaking; that our teachers will not be intimidated.”


So as we said, the Roman Catholic Church and the Opposition are not supporting the event, but on Thursday, Belize City is likely to be overflowing when thousands descend in the city.

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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1 Response for “B.N.T.U. says its teachers can go to the rally”

  1. Lord LOL says:

    Ahh yes another organization who is sceptical about this rally. I hope there is a strong turn out for friday’s protest too.

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