Teachers in Belize gearing for industrial action

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC) — Teachers were gearing for another round of industrial action on October 3 after their union demanded that the Belize Government meets its eight demands .
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), which staged a successful one-day demonstration one week ago, said that the action may extend beyond Monday even as Prime Minister Dean Barrow urged teachers to “call off this destructive crusade”.
The teachers have been protesting the delay in salary adjustments as well as a series of other national issues.
Barrow said he had sought to address the demands of the teachers in his correspondence to the union earlier this month and that “I made further efforts to do so in last Thursday’s meeting.
“But the BNTU leadership proved unyielding, and after the meeting, they summarily rejected government in under 18 hours, despite promising to consult with their wider membership. In doing so, I believe, they are being wholly unreasonable.”
But BNTU President Luke Palacio is accusing the prime minister of wanting things his own way.
“He never said that to us then; we laid our positions to him right there in the meetings, that we were not agreeing with some of the things he is proposing; and I don’t know that that now means that we are intolerable,” Palacio said.
“It seems that unless it is the prime minister’s way, then it is no way. And we as Belizeans need to understand: we have the power. The power of the people is greater than the people in power, and if we realise that, and if we — again, I repeat, love this country, we will do what it takes for us to right what is wrong,” he added.
Palacio said the two sides are quite far apart on the issues they discussed and Prime Minister Barrow said he was urging the BNTU “to call off this destructive crusade.
“Government has had multiple meetings with the churches and other unions, and reason and government’s compromise prevailed in all those discussions. Its leadership therefore needs to return to the negotiating table, so that we might also strike a balance between their demands and the interests of the larger society, especially the children and their parents.
“Then, altogether, the people, the government and the social partners, we can continue to take this country forward,” Barrow added.
But the BNTU president said the teachers will “not going to be held ransom by the prime minister dangling a carrot in front of us, and we will continue to suffer after we have taken that carrot.
“We are not for that,” he added.

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