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Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday #533108
11/05/18 11:39 AM
11/05/18 11:39 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) has announced that they will be holding a demonstration at the nation’s capital, Belmopan on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, to serve as a warning to the Ministry of Education on stalling on a number of issues affecting teachers.

BNTU President, Elena Smith, stated that the union has taken the position to demonstrate, in light of comments made by Minister of Education Patrick Faber, which the union maintains are completely untrue. Smith said that Faber continues to spread untruths about the ongoing negotiations for hardship allowance for teachers in remote areas and that the ministry is disrespecting the union by telling them to meet with district education managers instead of the Minister and his team.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the Ambergris Today


Re: Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday [Re: Marty] #533119
11/06/18 06:07 AM
11/06/18 06:07 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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BNTU ready for Wednesday’s Strike in Belmopan

The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) held a meeting with its representatives last week and accused Minister of Education Patrick Faber of union busting and intimidation. The Ministry also placed a deadline on when it requires a response from the Union on hot topic issues. But union President Elena Smith says they will respond but not by writing, by walking. The BNTU will protest in the capital no matter how many teachers come out on Wednesday.

Elena Smith President BNTU: “We are not going to put out any numbers there because we know what they do with numbers and we know how they play the game but what we are expecting is our members would see the benefit of what we are doing and those teachers who are not in the rural areas, that are in the urban areas that they can understand that there fellow colleagues are going through this situation and we are going to support them so whatever number of teachers come out that is what we will work with. The numbers for us does not signify the strength of the Union all the time because we know that while teachers are being intimidated some of them will not be able to go because of intimidation and some of them are new, they need the job they have bills to pay so we are aware of all of that so we will not hold that against them. Whatever number comes out we will work with that.”

LOVEFM


Re: Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday [Re: Marty] #533140
11/07/18 05:19 AM
11/07/18 05:19 AM
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

B.N.T.U. Ready to Demonstrate

On the eve of a planned demonstration, the Belize National Teachers’ Union is finalizing preparations to bus teachers from its ten branches countrywide to Belmopan on Wednesday. The announcement was made last week after the relationship between the B.N.T.U. and the Ministry of Education turned sour following the breakdown of negotiations.  The B.N.T.U.’s main points of contention are hardship and commuting allowances and Proposal Twenty-Two. These issues rattled the B.N.T.U.’s membership which has instructed its leadership to do what it takes to secure their needs. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

On Wednesday, teachers from across the country will descend on the capital City of Belmopan as they did earlier this year in March. Back then the mighty Belize National Teachers’ Union rallied against crime and on Wednesday, the union is calling on its entire membership to rally against what it describes as ‘blatant disrespect’ at the hands of the Minister of Education Patrick Faber.

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

It is looking good. We have heard from all our ten branches. We do have teachers who will be coming out tomorrow in support. We understand based on feedback we have other groups who will be supporting us as well. I heard cane farmers will be coming out, we are not sure. We heard a call for stevedores to come out. We hope that is so. We are excited.

Teachers will assemble in front of the Belize Comprehensive High School before marching to the Belmopan Civic Center for the day’s programme. From there the teachers will gather in front of the National Assembly building near the Ministry of Education where they will remind the Education Minister why they decided to take this step:

Senator Elena Smith

“The overarching issue is the matter of our hardship school, not for our teachers to be getting any additional compensation because people are saying that we are fighting for more money. That is not so. So it is for us to look at the list of hardship schools and determining how they are categorized. The matter of Proposal Twenty-Two that the ministry has said that is off the table which we know that is not so and we want that to come. So the ministry in essence is refusing to meet with the bargaining agents for our teachers and instead of meeting with us the officials of the union they are asking principals and other members to send information to the district managers in terms of these hardship schools. So that is a contention. We feel that is union busting. As well as comments made by the minister in terms of unions in whole that he is threatening the very existence and the purpose of unions of this country. So we cannot sit idly by and allow for that to happen because we know fully well what unions, union members have done for this country and how important unions are for our workers. Added on to that is the matter of commuting allowance which the ministry has informed us that anything prior to last school year they would not be paying our teachers whatever they owed them. Addition to that, the matter of teachers getting their increments late. They have to be waiting three, four, six month before they get increments. Some of them are owed increments three, four years still. Those are the issues that we will be looking at for tomorrow.”

The B.N.T.U. announced its decision to demonstrate last week, and since then, according to Senator Smith, the teachers have been faced with intimidating tactics.

Senator Elena Smith

“If you have heard we have our teachers informing that some of them have been informed of a mandatory workshop for tomorrow which the ministry will be working. So we have some teachers who will be attending those workshops and those who won’t. We were also informed by our members that we have police officers visiting schools as we speak, checking with the principal what numbers of their teachers will be going to Belmopan and what bus company will be transporting them to Belmopan. So even the police is getting involved in a matter that they have no business in. So we can understand why some teachers might want to stay back. For those reasons, whatever number of teachers come out we will be satisfied because we know that they support our union.

And for the union, numbers do not matter; the objective is for the teachers is to do whatever it takes to be heard loud and clear.

Senator Elena Smith

“We don’t depend on what the media or the politicians or government say about numbers. We know our teachers and we know that they will come out. So whatever number of them come out, if it a thousand, if it five thousand we are satisfied with our support. We will ensure that this matter is resolved and whatever it is our members tell us that this is resolved, we will do that.”

Channel 5


BNTU Building Steam With Widespread Support

Wednesday, the BNTU will stage a national demonstration in Belmopan - the union's first since March of this year when members marched against crime. But, this time it's a labour issue, and the most powerful union in the land is demanding that government recognize that what is known as Proposal 22 is still a live issue that is on the table to be negotiated. And, of course, they are also protesting over the way the Ministry of Education has proposed changes to the payment of hardship allowance to teachers in remote parts of the country.

Plus, the teachers say that the Ministry of Education is withholding payment of commuting allowance for teachers.

Today, proclamations of support for the teachers came from the Utility Workers Unions, namely, the Belize Energy Workers Union, the Belize Water Services Workers Union and the Belize Communication Workers Union.

A release says, quote, "the Utility Workers Unions hereby stand in full support with the BNTU….We are convinced that the BNTU's struggles, are aimed at addressing equity within the teaching sector of our country, and as trade unionists their call for support in addressing this matter is one we simply cannot and will not ignore...."

But the utility unions also urge caution, saying, quote, "We also encourage the BNTU to continue to do all it can to avoid making use of escalated industrial action unless it becomes absolutely necessary....the matters outstanding can be properly addressed bringing to a conclusion this ridiculously long negotiations period spanning over ten years. We…stand ready to lend our support and assistance to the BNTU, as it becomes necessary."

And, perhaps in a less fraternal spirit, the PUP also chimed in with a statement of solidarity and support.

Channel 7


Re: Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday [Re: Marty] #533150
11/07/18 01:23 PM
11/07/18 01:23 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,482
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

The Voices of the Teachers

Teachers assembled inside the Belmopan Civic Center as part of today’s demonstration.




BNTU Demonstration in Belmopan


Teachers from all across the country are marching on the Belmopan Ring Road, singing their union songs with a new chorus – “Tell Faber to bring it on, we’re gonna out his lights.”

The demonstration seems to be a mile long, as thousands of teachers are showing their solidarity and the strength of the union, which is requesting that the minister of education ‘Hon. Patric Faber’ meet a list of demands or negotiate with the union to address several compensation issues that were agreed to in past negotiations, but which have never been implemented. “the union says they are demonstrating to get past agreed to compensation that are long overdue”.

Just before the march took off they were led in song by former President of the BNTU Luke Palacio.

The Reporter


Re: Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday [Re: Marty] #533156
11/08/18 06:16 AM
11/08/18 06:16 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,482
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Teachers Show Numbers In Belmopan

After a week of anticipation, teachers from all across the country took to the streets of Belmopan today for a demonstration. They were answering the call from their union to send a message to the Government. They are unhappy that several important teacher-related issues remain unresolved.

By now, you should know very well about the fight over the hardship allowance for teachers. The BNTU says that the Ministry of Education handled that situation poorly by re-categorizing some schools in remote areas of the country, either cutting the allowance for some, or removing others from the list.

The Ministry insisted the changes are justified. Top technocrats say that the teachers union was consulted, and that the teachers had up until today to make their case to the district education councils, as to why certain schools deserve to be put back on the list, or their allowances increased.

Then, there is the fight over the negotiations for proposal 22 in the negotiations for the joint unions collective bargaining agreement. The teachers union insists that the Ministry of Education is stalling the negotiations on this proposal, which negatively affects the pensions for teachers from church managed schools. Finally, there is the continued withholding of commuting allowances for teachers.

All that frustration resulted in a flexing of muscle from the Union today, and our news team traveled to Belmopan to see just what type of support the BNTU has from its membership. Daniel Ortiz reports:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
When we arrived, we found teachers disembarking buses, and lining up for the first part of their demonstration for the day.

At first, it didn't appear as though the teachers showed up in the numbers needed to legitimize this rally, but, as the morning went by, we noticed that the number of green shirts started to swell.

Later into the parade around the ring road, we counted 1,300 participants who were mostly teachers, marching in the hot Belmopan sun. They chanted the union song, and seemed mostly unaffected by the heat, even if their pace suggested they wanted to quickly finish this part of the day's activities.

It did serve the purpose to show that teachers from all across Belize's answered the call of their President to demonstrate

Hon. Elena Smith - President, BNTU
"It's a good feeling. We knew that our teachers would have come out today, because when the union calls and our members know that our call is a just one, they join us. We have at least 2 buses from every branch. So that will be 20 buses at least."

Once the trip around the ring road was completed, the teachers congregated at the Civic Center, for a morning of speeches from their leaders and a few chosen guests.

Outside, we saw individuals from other organizations such as the President of the CWU, the Leader of the Opposition, and a few PUP politicians.

Evan "Mose" Hyde - President CWU
"As you know the BNTU came out very supportive of CWU in the matter of negotiations with the Port. But beyond that, I think that being involved with union work for the past months, gives you a unique perspective on why it is the BNTU feels disrespected. You cannot tolerate being told outright condescendingly and arrogantly that a matter is not to be negotiated. I believe on a principle alone, a union has to respond to that and I think that all unions have that consciousness and that's why I am out here and some of my members have joined me as well."

Hon. John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition
"I come from a family of teachers. My mother was a teacher, my father was a teacher, my wife is a teacher and the teachers are the bedrock of this country and in any righteous cause we need to show our full one hundred percent support for the teachers."

Evan "Mose" Hyde - President CWU
"I think that anytime anyone whether it's a bargaining entity, employer, a minister - whoever it is tell a union outright that that matter is off. You can't tolerate that and that violates the very spirit of how unions are supposed to operate and again, i double down on the fact that the BNTU has every right to up the ante in response to that type of in my view dictatorial action on the part of the minister."

And the teachers certainly used their rostrum at the Civic Center to declare that their concerns will not be ignored.

There was even an impromptu song for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Crowd chanting
"Da soh he wah be prime minister, we noh de pan dat."

Hon. Elena Smith
"There are some people and I don't want to go Zacchaeus days, but there are some people in this land who believe that they have power and that their power will remain with them forever. That is not so. Every one of us we have a time and we have a purpose and when you purpose and when your time is up - you gotta go. If it is that union that you must go before your time, if we believe that you must go before your time - you bet the cook, you are going to go. We don't play punches with red nor blue and there is another green beside the BNTU and if that green comes along that green will get it too."

Teacher 1
"Teachers, I don't know why, but everybody think you are perfect human beings - that you do not need time off, that you do not need $200, that you do not need your 100% pension high school teachers. For God sake who tell you that we do not need it? We need it. That's not even enough and I invite all those who are not teachers who have a lot to say to step in the shoes of a teacher Monday to Friday and you will know how one feel."

Teacher 2
"If BNTU call a strike tomorrow I will be number one in support of my union, because this union continue to fight for its members and continue to fight for Belize. It's nearly 2 years since that great 11 days. The minister missed his month - October 2016 - 11 days we were strike and because you're on strike in 2016, the man still has feelings."

Teacher 2
"Just remember when they try to silence our leaders, they are silencing your voices and we will not allow that. So anytime it's time for us to march for respect and better benefits - 100% the green machine - never fail to understand that we will not allow you to silence the voices of Belize and that happens to be the teachers of Belize."

Elena Smith
"Every time we come to these clashes, we would have tried everything we could to ensure that we get meetings together that we get movement on these issues and when we come to this, it is because there is no other choice for us. So when you hear people talking out there that teachers like to strike - they better not wait for us to strike, because this is not a strike right now. This is only a demonstration and you know what demonstration means, it's a way to show right. So right now we are just showing them what it is that we can do."

"When that time comes for us to strike, whoever is in the way - we don't care who it is - you are in the way, you are going to get it!"

But all that hard talk aside, the BNTU leadership feels justified in calling for today's demonstration, to signal to the Government that the union's membership, which numbers thousands, cares very much about the issues in dispute.

Hon. Elena Smith - President, BNTU
"For us the hardship matter is one of the main ones and that is where the schools are being re-categorized and some schools are being taken off the list. Some are being added on to the list, some are being downgraded and so teachers who are in a higher category are now moved down to a lower category and that means that these teachers then would be getting less monies that they would have normally be getting. The fight today is not for money. Let me make that very clear. We are not asking for an increase in any allowance, we are asking that we be called to the table as the bargaining agent for teachers for us to discuss and finalize these schools being categorized. The other issue is that of proposal 22, which is a part of our negotiations. As you heard the minister saying that that matter is off the table. It was no longer a live issue. We kept saying that that matter was still on the table and we would not give it up and as you've heard we've got a letter from the prime minister and he is agreeing that we should meet and discuss the matter, because he sees no reason why we should be at this point right now."

As you heard, the BNTU president says that the Prime Minister has written a letter to them, indicating a willingness to encourage the resumption of dialog on this issues. The press asked for more details on this latest communication, and the President told us that the PM wants to de-escalate tension between his government and the union:

Hon. Elena Smith - President, BNTU
"The Prime Minister shared with me that the matter was discusses at cabinet, based on the letter that we sent to him and that cabinet felt that these are matters that we could trashed out just by having sit downs and discussing the matter and so he has agree that the minister then should meet with us and have these discussion so that we can finalize these matters. If it is that we cannot get to any finality with the matter, then the Prime Minister will step in and he will take over these matters."

Education Minister Ready To Reconcile

Education Minister Patrick Faber wasn't in Belmopan to get the message from the teachers - instead he was launching his own media counter-offensive. Faber appeared on the UDP's Wave Radio and TV this morning to get out his message: that the Ministry is ready to meet, mend fences and iron out misunderstandings with the union. We caught up with him right after he got off that talk show - and he told us he also wrote to the BNTU President requesting a meeting:...

Hon. Patrick Faber- Minister of Education
"It is a fact that we did not grant a none-school day. I don't even know one was requested. So, it is our expectation that teachers should be at school today but it may well be that they decided to support the union. I am not going to get into all of that back and forth. As you've indicated as well, I have sent a letter inviting the core executive of the BNTU to a meeting on Monday and I did that yesterday evening very late, in a very calculated way because I didn't want to be accused of trying to derail their efforts. They have made that call for the demonstration. I don't support it; I believe that everybody knows that the ministry cannot support that. The managements don't support it but if that is what they want to do let it clear and let's sit down like the individuals that we are and groups that we are to talk about it on Monday to see how we can progress."

Jules Vasquez- Reporter
"I understand you said that you don't want to interfere with the process of having the demonstration etcetera but sir, we know what this is. Why not just preempt it and say, 'okay, you don't want to meet with the DEC's? Good, let us just have our meeting and let us try to hammer it out rather than we lose another teaching day.'"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"We've never not wanted to have a meeting on this matter. The issue is, as I understand it, the teacher's union wants to bring an elaborate posy to a meeting and that is never productive. We have afforded mechanisms, let us use the mechanisms. That is simply it. We have never closed the doors. We have never said, 'this is it we don't want to hear from you.' That has never been the case."

Jules Vasquez
"The president is saying that there is a reason for that because she does not have the granular level of knowledge as to what is happening at every district school. So, she has to bring her district representatives."

Hon. Patrick Faber
"I don't want to take the question any further because it will preempt our meeting on Monday and I don't want to say anything that they will take either one way or the other that it derails the benefits that can come from that meeting. And so, I will leave it at that. I have extended an invitation. I will go into that meeting with a completely open mind and with one objective in mind- to try to stave off further loss of time for our education system."

Jules Vasquez
"The teachers' union it seems has a personal problem with you. Is it your involvement in the negotiation of this which is inflaming things rather than soothing this tension?"

Hon. Patrick Faber
"I have not been in any of those negotiations about hardship allowance, you know; none of them. It is you, the people in the media who come and ask me the tough questions and I give you my position and granted I am very passionate about my position but I am not wrong. The positions that I put forward I put forward in order to try to advance our education system. Yes there are lots of things that people have become accustomed to and people feel that they are entitled to but my job is to prove the system. The children are at the bottom of all this. They are the underlying factor for which we work. So, that is my only agenda; no hidden agenda, no gripes against President Elena or anybody in the union."

Jules Vasquez
"But they have gripes against you."

Hon. Patrick Faber
"Well, that is them. You will have to ask them about that but I will go into the meeting on Monday hands wide open, arms ready to embrace whoever is serious about working for the benefit of resolving these issues."

The union has not yet responded to Faber's request for a meeting.

But, for those 1,300 teachers demonstrating in Belmopan, they didn't ask for the day - and the Ministry didn't give it to them. So will the Minister dock their pay? That's what we asked him today:..

Jules Vasquez, reporter
"Will the teachers' pay be docked for those who missed work today?"

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"Well it is as you know an issue that we try to decide after the fact. So there is no decision at this point to necessarily do that. Although the managements of those schools may have made a position known to the teachers. The managements have all rights to make their recommendations. They are the ones who manage the schools daily, but in terms of the ministry of education taking a position in that regard, there is no such decision at this point."

As you saw, Faber plans to meet with the Teachers next week.

Channel 7


Re: Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday [Re: Marty] #533177
11/09/18 06:27 AM
11/09/18 06:27 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,482
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

BNTU Says Yes To Faber

They sent a message to Belmopan yesterday with a thousand strong demonstration, and, on Monday, the Teacher’s Union will meet with the Minister of Education. That’s the gist of a release today in which the union thanks all its supports for their support.

The release adds, quote, “Minister Faber has finally conceded to meeting with us and has committed to work alongside us to address the issues we have highlited. We therefore look froward to charting the way forward and will hold him to his word to ensure that our members are given what they justly deserve…We will approach Monday’s meeting with open minds and are hopeful that we will make satisfactory progress.”

The BNTU warns, however, “should the opposite happen, our members are prepared to take the next steps.” End quote.

We’ll tell you what comes out of Monday’s meeting.

Channel 7


Re: Belize Teachers Ready To Demonstrate On Wednesday [Re: Marty] #533239
11/13/18 06:30 AM
11/13/18 06:30 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 60,482
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

Teachers Union and Educ. Minister Meet

Last week Wednesday, we took you to Belmopan where 1300 teachers and supporters demonstrated.

They were flexing to show the Government and the Ministry of Education that they were serious about their concerns, such as teacher hardship allowances, Proposal 22, and commuting allowance for teachers.

On that same day, the Deputy Prime Minister announced that he was willing to meet with the union's leadership to start de-escalating tensions.

The BNTU said on the following day that they would take him up on his offer, and they met this afternoon at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex. Those closed door talks lasted for several hours, and when they exited, the two sides were measured and careful in their comments, a distinction from the hardline they were taking just days earlier.

Both the union's President and the DPM stressed that today's conversation was just a preliminary meeting to set up a timeline, and to chart a way forward to resolving any lingering differences between them:

Hon. Elena Smith, President - BNTU
"We met with the officials from the ministry, then our core executive members from the BNTU. The meeting today was to chart a way forward in terms of the issues that we raised with the ministry and so the meeting for us to do just that, to determine how we are going to proceed with looking at those issues we had: proposal 22, hardship and all of those areas."

Reporter
"Are you able to share any details as to how those talks went?"

Hon. Elena Smith, President - BNTU
"We have agreed that we are going to be setting other meetings so that we could address each of them individually and come to agreement on them. We are hopeful and at the same time we are expecting that results will be favorable."

Reporter
"How long before there is any feedback regarding what you presented to the ministry officials?"

Hon. Elena Smith, President - BNTU
"We start meetings next week. So we are hoping that within a few weeks or so we would be able to conclude those matters."

Reporter
"So this is just an initial sit-down?"

Hon. Elena Smith, President - BNTU
"Correct. Just a meeting to chart the way forward, in terms of how we are going to address the issues."

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
"The meeting today is was just to decide on how we would move forward. So we have not gotten into the details just yet. We have agreed that we will have a meeting with the BNTU to discuss the categorization activity for hardship allowances and we will also be discussing the issues that are outstanding for proposal 22, which was never really an issue. The 2 issues that are outstanding as you may know are the issue having to do with the proprietorship of 4 community schools whether they want to remain as community schools or whether they want to come under the government's ownership. So we discussed a way forward. We form a little committee to deal with that issue and then the other issues is having to do with the 30% coming from denominational and community schools as well, that are not forthcoming for some of the past employees who are relying on their benefits of pension and gratuity. So in effect what has happened from a very long time ago is that we agreed that we will support the teachers in the quest to try to get those managements to pay their commitment which is their agreement. We will give the union and the teachers support in doing that."

"That was always what is was. I think there is some misunderstanding in terms of when I said it is not a live issues, is because we had already agree to these issues and so we just confirm that that is the position today and then on the matter of commuting allowances, well we discussed those and where it is that the teachers had in some kind of application and it could be proven whether it in some cases it did not reach the ministry. It probably got to the managements and the managements did not submit those that we have agree to honor those. So again, we had a very cordial meeting. We were able to address all of these issues. In fact I believe that it was always that we could sit-down and discussed these issues. I think where we went wrong was that and I'll blame the media here - you come and ask sometimes, you say that this one says that and that one says that. It stirs up the mud and really we are not at a position where we can't agree to sit-down at the table and talk."

We'll keep following to see how this path to resolution plays out.

Channel 7



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