The ministerial committee comprising Patrick Faber, Godwin Hulse, and Charles Gibson will join Prime Minister Dean Barrow with the leaders of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize this Friday morning following Tuesday’s massive protest. On the table is the collective bargaining agreement and specifically salary adjustments that the teachers have been clamoring for since 2005. The Minister of National Security John Saldivar is not a member of the ministerial committee but he attempted to entice Belmopan teachers to a meeting before the protest. On January twenty-third, a letter from the Ministry of Education told teachers in Minister Saldivar’s constituency that schools can close their doors at midday and parents are to pick up their children so teachers can attend the meeting. The Belize National Teachers Union President called it union busting since Saldivar was not a part of the negotiations. Saldivar’s defense was simply that he wanted to meet with his constituents. But earlier today, Saldivar abandoned that reasoning and is promising to travel the country to meet with teachers. While on WAVE radio, Saldivar said he would rumble with union leaders who he accused of being political.
Voice of: John Saldivar, Minister of National Security
“If they are not able to reach a satisfactory conclusion tomorrow Fonso, I will travel this country with government’s position. I am telling you from now. So Mr. Palacio, if you want call it union busting, you can call it weh you want. But I am going to travel the entirety of this country, meeting with teachers. And if they no want come dah meeting, I gwen dah come to their house. I will find a way to meet them. So they know the facts of my what my government’s position is; what are we offering because these leaders have a political agenda. I like it when they have a political agenda because it brings them in my arena—because my arena is politics. And so, if they think they can play politics better than me, then we will get in there and rumble. We wah rumble. They want to shape people’s minds against my government in a certain way. Well I gwen out deh go counter that and as soon as I hear the outcome of the meeting tomorrow.”
News Five spoke to B.N.T.U. National President Luke Palacio who said politicians will call them many things and even if Saldivar tries to force teachers into a meeting, it is up to teachers to decide if they will take him up on his demands. News Five also spoke to Arlette Gomez from the Ministry of Education. She said that Minister Saldivar has not made any requests with the ministry to meet with teachers. However, if he decides to meet with them outside of school hours, the teachers would have to make that decision for themselves.