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#518068 - 10/06/16 08:40 PM Teacher's strike goes on through Friday
Marty Offline
The Belize Teachers Union has announced that the strike continues into Day 5 on Friday. Tomorrow, it will be announced if the strike will proceed into the following week.

The ten branches of the Union are meeting countrywide and on Friday morning, the Council of Management will meet and thereafter communicate the decision on whether the strike will continue into next week.

#518075 - 10/07/16 10:57 AM Re: Teacher;s strike goes on through Friday [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Teachers Strike Continues Into Fifth Day

Today, was day 4 of the teachers strike, and demonstrations were held all around the country, as the 10 branches of the Belize National Teachers Union flexed their numbers. It was the union's way of putting numbers in the street, and giving others in the public a chance to show their support by marching along.

We'll show you how the demonstrations looked in Belize City, Belmopan, Benque, and Orange Walk, but first to the most important news of the day. The strike will continue tomorrow, and there is a possibility that if the general membership so chooses, it could spill into next week.

This afternoon, the President of the Belize District Branch told us that she and the other Branch leadership will seek out their teachers on whether or not they will strike next week:

Kathleen Flowers, Belize City Branch Rep.
"Today we do our demonstration, tomorrow the council of management of BNTU meets and therefore that's a clear indicator to you that this week we end it off with another day of strike action. When that council of management meets of Friday, it would be meeting using a mandate gotten from the membership of the branch, because when we initiated this industrial action, it was initiated with a mandate from our membership. Therefore none of us as members of the union can determine that we would bring it to an end without that mandate or directive from our membership."

"This afternoon across the country after each branch has held its rally, we are going to be having membership meetings at which we are going to ask our members to humbly give us the direction that they wish to take this industrial in."

"It's very important that we go back to our members because they are the ones that have been making the sacrifice alongside the work that we as their leaders have been guiding them through."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Do you get any sense that having done this for 4 days now, the public blasting and tongue lashing that the teachers have been getting, that the teachers are getting weary of this battle?"

Kathleen Flowers, Belize City Branch Rep.
"I don't feel any sense of weariness. What we have been getting is that the teachers are prepare to go through for the long haul. But as a responsible organization we have to paint the picture before them what the long haul means and what the long haul will bring and therefore it's up to them to do an assessment and come up with their answer as to how long they want that haul to be. But we are not getting a sense that our teachers are getting tired and want to stop."

BNTU Brings Out 675 In City

We had that opportunity to speak with the President of Belize District Branch today at their demonstration and rally. Our news team was out there from start to its finish, and Daniel Ortiz has the story:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
About 675 teachers from the Belize District Branch and their supporters from the political sphere and regular life paraded through the principal streets of the city, briefly commanding the attention of onlookers as they passed by in their second major demonstration in 2 weeks.

They marched for about an hour from the Constitution Park to the BTL Park, for a quick round of presentations from their chosen speakers.

At its start, it resembled a lively praise and worship celebration.

And the teachers received it well. It has been a long 4 days where they have been put on blast being out of classes. Not to mention, enduring a pay cut for their defiant stance in the name of good governance is expected to hurt substantially.

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"I would personally like to thank the teachers for making this sacrifice. what they are doing is valiant and bold to be respected and admired that they are will to take pay cut and it's a substantial pay cut. I heard some big numbers being discussed on some talk show this morning."

Kathleen E.B. Flowers - President, BNTU Belize City Branch
"it's going to be varied because we have a range of pay scales on which teachers get paid, but averagely it's going to range from anywhere from $38 or so to $102-$110. Each branch is being asked per day to do an exercise with their teachers as well. I know today Belize branch is doing that exercise with teachers so we show them realistically what they are looking at."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"I would personally like to send out my congratulations and sincere admiration to those teachers that has taken a stand for something that the business community has been calling for for a long time. I think that any right minded person would not find objection to the call for good governance, transparency and accountability."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"We see you out here, why is it important to you personally?"

Hon. Cordel Hyde - Supporting the Teachers
"If you're a parent you have to, if you're a Belizean you have to. The issues that the teachers are fighting for is not just for them but for all Belizeans and we have a responsibility to support them. They've made this gigantic step of staying away from classes, absorbing all kinds of challenges. The government has thrown the kitchen sink and the dog at them. The government has been divisive, getting the other unions against the BNTU, the Papal Nuncio and sister Barbara against Bishop Wright and the catholic teachers and principals, they're own people against the teachers. We have to stand with them, we have to be here, because if you really think about it, the government isn't listening to the teachers, they're really not, because what the teachers are asking for is not rocket science."

So, it's while been almost a weeklong, bruising battle for the BNTU demands, caught in the crossfire are the parents, whose children are home where no meaningful education is taking place. So how much longer until the strike ends?

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Those members in the public who say 'yes teachers I hear your message its now 4 days though, tomorrow will be 5."

Kathleen Flowers, Belize City Branch Rep.
"The only way we can keep the public on our side is by showing them that the sacrifice we are making is not a selfish one, we are doing this for our nation and we have to ask them to stand strong with us. We as BNTU and the members who make up BNTU are not irresponsible people. we will be sure to make sure whatever ground we have lost is covered in some way, shape or form except that we are encouraging our me members to make sure that they initiate, cultivate and activate that make up work, that make up adjustment for the period we're out on industrial action at the respective schools."

Hon. Cordel Hyde - Supporting the Teachers
"What is clear over the last month and change is that people understand that you are not going to get the government to do the right thing if you are not prepared to agitate, if you are not prepared to protest, if you are not prepared to go as far as we've been going, because power can concedes nothing without a demand. It didn't happen in our time and it's not happening now. You have to be prepared to go the extra mile."

Kathleen Flowers, Belize City Branch Rep.
"Each branch is reporting that not only are there more teachers coming on board, but the community if opening its arms and welcoming the actions that we are doing. So today these demonstrations was a sort of litmus test to see to what extent do we have the community support? As I look around at BTL Park I see the green shirts being worn by the teachers but I see the community members also being a part of our actions."

At around 2 p.m., the Belize District teachers held a meeting to cast their vote on what action will be taken next week. The Council of Management for the entire Union will meet tomorrow to hear form all district branches, and that's when we'll be able to tell you if the school shutdown continues next week.

Bishops Tell Teachers To Go Back To Classroom

And while the teachers made their presence felt countrywide today - the Catholic Bishops, Wright and Glancey sent out a letter this evening saying it's time to go back to school. The letter opens by saying, "we want to reiterate our support for all those pushing the Government of Belize to implement policies and laws to monitor and enforce good governance." But, after that, it takes a turn. It says: "Now that the Prime Minister has expressed a willingness and desire to go back to the negotiating table, we support the appeal for students and teachers to get back to the classroom. The education of our young people is our primary concern. Other means besides strikes can be used to pressure the government for reforms to insure good governance. We call on the BNTU and other unions, other social partners, the opposition and the Government of Belize to work together to see that these reforms are set into law in the coming weeks and months. The commitment of GOB to sign the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on December 9, 2016 is one good sign of movement in this area."

We note that this comes the day after the Papal Nunce, Archbishop Kalenga visited basically to put the Catholic house in order after conflicting messages came out between the Catholic Diocese and the Catholic School Management. This joint statement echoes his message to teachers.

And it seems Kalenga has also put a new protocol in place to make sure there is uniformity in messaging going forward. The letter states, quote, "In order to avoid confusion in the future, all communications from the Roman Catholic Church in Belize will be signed by both the bishop and the auxiliary bishop. If one or the other is unable to sign or out of the country, one of the senior priests Rev. Noel Leslie or Rev. Lawrence Nicasio will sign with one of the bishops. This is the desire of the Apostolic Nuncio. No one else is authorized to speak in the name of the Roman Catholic Church in Belize."

And while the largest bloc of unionized teachers are from Catholic management, it remains to be seen how the Union will respond.

Channel 7

#518080 - 10/07/16 11:25 AM Re: Teacher's strike goes on through Friday [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Think about it. Teachers earn between $38.00 to $102.00 or so per day, depending on their education. Fighting for a 3% raise, amongst important issues, and have lost 5 days pay so far. BCCI asking if the biz community will do the same.
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