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#517646 - 09/19/16 11:00 AM Belize teachers to stage mass protest strike today
Marty Offline

The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) has announced plans for a mass demonstration today, even as the government assured parents that all schools will be opened.

The Ministry of Education, in a statement, informed parents, teachers and students that in compliance with the education rules, managing authorities will take necessary measures to make certain that schools and institutions are kept open for classes today

The BNTU said it has asked its membership to wear signature green T-shirts as part of the ‘Stand Up For Belize’ solidarity campaign on matters of urgent national importance.

BTNU President Luke Palacio said his union would not be joining other trade unions, including the Public Service Union and Association of Public Service Senior Managers, for talks with Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Friday.

He said while the demonstration will go ahead regardless of the Government’s response to its seven demands issued last week, the union would be seeking a separate meeting with Prime Minister Barrow regarding his list of demands after consultation with the council of management.

“First of all there were no deadlines and no conditions set as it relates to the plan of action the BNTU has. A letter was sent to the PM asking and making certain demands and we gave him up until Friday to respond, and he has done so,” Palacio said, noting that the response was received on Wednesday.

“In relation to the demonstration we are having on Monday, it was not contingent on whether the PM responded by Friday or not. Our position is that on the 19th of September we are going to have a national demonstration in Belmopan,” he added.

Earlier last week, the Government said plans by the teachers to stage the demonstration were politically motivated.

The BNTU had also indicated that its action is to get the Government to pay out the third tranche of the three per cent adjustment to the salaries of teachers.

Education Minister Patrick Faber said the issues raised by the BNTU in a letter to the prime minister have already been raised in a legitimate forum like the Collective bargaining agreement negotiations “which we all agreed a few weeks ago would come to a close”.

But Palacio said the demonstration will also be about the need for good governance in the country.

“My friends, the things we are talking about, the things we are taking these actions upon and hoping that they will bring about good governance of this country, everybody knows, everybody feels it, everybody sees it every single day.

“And so, when individuals in the Government will decide that they want to get the public on their side simply because, as far as they are concerned, they see nothing wrong, the masses of the Belizean people see what is wrong and at the end of the day the Belizean people will vindicate the union for standing up,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said all stakeholders, including bus operators, have been informed that school buses will run their normal schedules today.

Additionally, it said that whenever the BNTU calls a meeting or other activity it is a common practice of some principals to send notes to parents and guardians through their children.

“This is to notify them that there would be no classes because of the planned union meeting or activity. The public is reminded that principals have no such authority unless approval has been given for such meetings or other activities,” the ministry added.


Teachers plan to demonstrate, despite meeting with PM Friday

Teachers plan to demonstrate on Monday, despite a meeting between their national leadership and Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who offered an additional proposal to them to abort the protest.

The teachers, represented by their union, the Belize National Teachers’ Union ((BNTU) refuse to agree with the government to defer payment of their salary increase until next year on government’s reason that Hurricane Earl has brought with it unexpected expenses that make meeting that payment impossible at this time.

Barrow explained to reporters after the meetings that the session was useful and constructive.

“There is a proposal government has offered as a way of trying to break the stalemate where two unions have voted one way and the BNTU have voted the next. The BNTU has promised to take that proposal back to its membership and give us a response as soon as they’ve been able to consult and that’s where things now are,” Barrow explained.

But the demonstration is still set to take place in Belmopan, and while the BNTU will not say what kind of turnout of its membership to expect, its National President, Like Palacio, advised parents to not send their children to school on Monday.

The Reporter


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#517657 - 09/19/16 06:50 PM Re: Belize teachers to stage mass protest strike today [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


Thousands of teachers gather on the steps of the National Assembly as they continue their planned demonstration against several national issues and the deferral of their salary adjustment. The BNTU says this is a continuation of their "Stand Up for Belize" campaign.

Click photos for more pictures!


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#517663 - 09/20/16 11:10 AM Re: Belize teachers to stage mass protest strike today [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Teachers Take Multitudes And Muscle To The Capital

And now, to the teachers…there was no school across most of the country today - as teachers paid no heed to warnings and remonstrations from the Ministry of Education and went right ahead with their national rally and demonstration in Belmopan.

The BNTU is the most powerful and organized union in the country, and today in the capital, they surely showed their muscle and their anger at the Barrow Administration - first by shutting down the education system and second by flooding the capital with thousands of protestors.

Courtney Weatherburne was in Belmopan:...

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
Closed windows, chained gates and an empty play ground - that is what you found at most schools across the country today. At other schools, the classrooms were open but the kids were just idly hanging around on the compound. That's because teachers from all over country were protesting in the streets of the capital city.

Walking in double lines, the teachers took their demands and chants to the Civic Center where the over 3,000 teachers crowded the area with their posters in hand.

But the action started inside with several bold speeches.

Luke Palacio - BNTU, President
"Enough is enough, and it comes to a stop today."

Kathleen Flowers - Bze. City Branch
"It is not only about the 3. It is for.... and so today because we understand what our country means, it means the place that we will live in the future, it means the place that we have to live in now and if now things are not right then now we have to fix it and BNTU is proud, strong and united."

Pastor Luis Wade - Plus TV
"All of the things we are fighting for whether COLA or teachers or the churches, they the cane farmers, Maya associations. You know, they have one Dean-nominator in common. One Dean-nominator in common, who is saying no to the public accounts committee, one Dean-nominator. Who is saying no to the integrity commission, who is saying no to the 13th senator? Who is saying no and refusing to sign the anticorruption convention? Who is stopping the senate select committee from rolling the way it is supposed to? We have one Dean-nominator in common. He is saying it's political. When friend-friend drive the Prado into the sea it wasn't politics was it? When son-son moved to the top of Telemedia and BTL getting hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, it wasn't politics then was it? When Sister-sister for a whole year was a CEO of nothing but collect hundreds of thousands of dollars to do nothing, while teachers work every day and can't get their proper pay its not politics then is it?"

BNTU Rep - Toledo Rural
"We as the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) will fight a fight to win. You know what hurts me a lot? In fact, while coming on the bus with our teachers were kinda concerned. They asked me, if I think our pay will get deducted. I asked them, would you prefer sacrifice a day for your country or do you prefer sacrifice your entire life for your country to still be safe?"

Those speeches energized the crowd and it turned into a big celebration of solidarity.

But after all those speeches, it was time to hit the streets again but this time straight to the steps of the assembly building, where their songs and chants echoed.

Everything was calm with teachers singing their Union song, and the 50 plus officers standing in formation were making sure of that too.

That's of course until this well-known PUP supporter had to be shoved by SPU officers for being loud and unruly.

Things got even more complicated when others in the crowd charged at the officers. He was finally subdued and taken to the police station where he was released. But behind that political sideshow, the teachers got their message across, in numbers and in their resolute hardline message.

As noted in the story, we counted three thousand teachers, but the Union claims six thousand, which is two times that number.

Channel 7


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#517700 - 09/21/16 11:05 AM Re: Belize teachers to stage mass protest strike today [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Labour Senator Lambastes Education Minister

Only a few of the speeches from yesterday's BNTU demonstration that actually highlighted the union's demands for better governance. But the majority of the speeches just seemed to reflect all that bad blood between the Ministry and the teachers. Labor senator Elena Smith surely unleashed all that rage on the Civic Center Stage. Here is an excerpt from her presentation.

Hon. Elena Smith, NTUCB
"Now teachers we have been hearing a lot of things in the news lately and one of things they said was is that teacher's don't think about their children, all they do is think about themselves. Well, how many of you did lesson plans this weekend, who made charts? Who bought a marker? a pens, a pencil, a sharpener and eraser, paint. Now I wish that those persons who are in the leadership of our ministry would take the time to visit our classrooms but if you notice something, some of us are not important, we are like animal farm, some schools are more important than others, but despite the fact that no other than our minister, the same little man, little man like Zacchaeus, you know the story of Zacchaeus right? a wee little man and a wee little man was he , he had to climb in the Sycamore tree , well this one was too short so he couldn't climb so he tried running down those steps and because his legs were too short , they had to help him and they dragged his butt down those steps but yet he sits in his office and talks about teachers not caring , as my president rightly said , he should answer the question, what the hell was he doing out there in 2005, what was he doing?, wasn't it for love of country, so when you get to become a minister you no longer love your country?, I wonder what school they went to, I didn't him teach him, had he come to our school , he would have had some better sense, but unfortunately, the same persons who taught him are now advising him, so what do you expect? He didn't learn then so now he will learn? Well I will tell you this, BNTU will teach him lesson he will never forget."

Bad blood aside, the BNTU will meet with the PM on Thursday to decide on the next step.

Finsec Says GOB Can’t Afford Teacher’s Raise

So, while that's the rage that the teachers have for their Minister, a part of their grievance with the Prime Minister is that he has asked them to defer the third tranche of their salary adjustment.

Financial Secretary Joseph Waight was in that meeting with the joint unions which happened on last Friday. Neither the Prime Minister nor the union representatives wanted to get into too detail since they wanted to give the Unions a chance to return to their constituents about a proposal that the Government tabled.

Today, we asked Waight to share a few more details about the nature of this new proposal. He discussed it briefly with us:

The 3 unions will give another response to the Prime Minister after consulting with their members.


Channel 7


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