On January 6th, the Belize National Teachers Union said its members would raise their voice in 2014 - and they have. The Union successfully staged six rallies across the country in 21 days - showing impressive machinery and muscle. Success was assured because the main thing that drove them to rally was already assured: their raise of pay was in pocket, but the teachers wanted to broaden their voice on a range of national issues - and these days, if it's scandal you're looking for there's no shortage of that.

Today, the union assessed itself, and not surprisingly, the teachers gave themselves an A+ - but like concerned parents, we wanted to know what was really behind that report card. Here's what we found out at a rally wrap-up press conference:..

Jules Vasquez reporting
Today, union leaders from the districts came to BNTU headquarters in Belize City for a victory lap. Their rallies are over, and they are claiming success:

Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President
"Were we not successful? Yes we dare say we were. We brought a level of success in that we got the nation thinking about the issues."

And that was a recurring theme in today's press conference, the issues, not the issue of a salary adjustment.

Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President
"No longer can we continue to talk about it's only about the salary because people now understand its more than that."

They say their message is evolving - as their activism continues:

Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President
"This engine is just a starting rolling. We are not stopping. We are saying we want to bring the education issues to the table as well. Now, we have to sit down as partners and work on this. The evolution of our call can begin to be clear that it's all about Belize; love, Belize month in February and march on in March."

No slogan yet for April and that's probably because that's when the new fiscal year starts and they get paid. Discussions continued last week but that's one subject they would not discuss:

Luke Palacio, BNTU National President
"As it relates to the meeting held last Thursday, we can only say at this time that the meeting was held. The 3 unions were represented, positions have been presented but we have not met as the joint unions negotiating team and therefore we are not going to discuss that matter."

Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President
"What we are strategizing behind closed doors, we don't want to tell all of it yet. Belize you me, if we have a final closure to negotiations, who would we want happy than us to tell our members that we have done the deal, let's celebrate."

But, they're not done yet and until then they will continue to leverage the government by bringing pressure on public issues

Luke Palacio, BNTU National President
"We don't believe that we want to continue to see band aid being put on bog cut wounds as it relates to corruption in this country. And so we believe that corruption is an issue that is still very much alive."

And the strength of this union is the numbers it can put on the streets:

Jose Ico, Belmopan Branch - Secretary
"The rallies were lessons on the street. The rallies were a way in telling our students that boys and girls, young men and young women, this is a democratic country."

And today the press got a lesson in math. The union says they have 95% membership turnout in the north, 85% turnout in Belize City, 95% turnout in the west, 97% turnout in Dangriga, and 95% turnout in Toledo. That's an A+ meaning almost all the three thousand members turned out. But did they, we counted a total of two thousand:

Jules Vasquez
"We counted 200 in Corozal, 250-300 in Orange Walk, Belize City - 410 and then Cayo - 560, Stann Creek 380..."

Jose Ico, Belmopan Branch - Secretary
"Jules, we have people that deal with logistics. We have people that are preparing X numbers of.... This is the union in its full force. What you saw Jules, you counted only the green shirts and even that is wrong. You know why, because we have people out there."

Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President
"We know how many shirts we distributed and we know how many bodies were wearing those shirts and so we counted our shirts that were out there. So when you hear us talking about these figures, it's because of the count that we did."

And so, in the end, like most teachers, they are always right.

Luke Palacio, BNTU National President
"The media have done a fairly good job in covering the rallies, whether they skewed the figures afterwards - that is for them to prove. We know what we have."

We should note that the media figures the BNTU President so glibly calls skewed compare favourably across media houses, and match also with the official numbers generated by police. And for the records, we didn't only count green shirts, we counted everyone at the rally - except media and police.

Channel 7