And on a much bigger and busier island - San Pedro, Ambergris Caye - teachers at Holy Cross Anglican Primary School held a protest. According to one of the teachers, who also doubles at the Belize National Teachers Union rep, they're not getting the money that they're owed. She explained that some teachers who haven't been getting their paychecks, and on top of that, the teachers also haven't been getting their "hardship" payments. This are allowances given to them to help with their living and food expenses, especially since many of the teachers don't live on the island.

But for the past few months, they've been contended without that added help, but even when they do get it, it does little to ease the financial burden - especially when considering the inflated cost of living on San Pedro.

And so today, they staged a walkout, and they say, they're not going back into classes until the matter is settled. Teacher Helen Melendez spoke to us via Zoom today.

Helen Melendez, Teacher, Holy Cross/BNTU Rep.
"We have 7 teachers on staff who currently haven't gotten paid since September. That's one of the issues and then we also have the entire staff members who have not received any hardship allowance any at all. Now, we get $200 hardship allowance, but for some reason on a year-to-year basis its always difficult for us to get that on time. Last year for example, it took us 6 months before we got our hardship. Now, we live on San Pedro is pretty much expensive and most people are aware of that and teachers find a hard time to survive only with their salaries, so they are saying that they want their hardship, but they cannot wait another 6 months for this year. Most teachers here pay rent. Out of our staff, I think it's only about a handful of us and when I say that, maybe about of us on staff that actually live on the island, everybody else they either come from Orange Walk, Belize City - from different places. Therefore, these teachers when they come here, they definitely need to find some place that they need to rent. When you talk about rent in San Pedro, its not like in Belize City where you're going to get a house for $450 or anything than ranges between $300-$500 a month. That is not the case out here. You're going to get a one-bedroom apartment roughly between $500-$800. Now you're only talking about rent, you're not talking about transportation, because these teachers need to commute back and go to their families that they left behind and apart from that, when you rent apartment, utilities are not included. You need to talk about water, light and you need to have internet in order to get your school work done on a weekly basis. You're talking about food expenses. Its a lot. I wish we would get an increase, but I'm quite sure it's easier said than done. I saw a memo circulating whereby they have the CEOs, their living and entertainment allowances have actually increase from $750-$1,500 and while we as teachers who are here working hard need to have a child-friendly classroom spending out of our pocket and we were getting a measly $200. I think they should look at the hardship areas and increase the hardship allowance for some teachers. It is only right."

Melendez added that there are other issues they want to discuss as well, and that they're trying to organize a meeting with the school's general manager. They would also like a member of the BNTU's executive to participate in the meeting, but they have yet to get any responses. We should note that classes countrywide have been cancelled for tomorrow win preparation for Tropical Cyclone Lisa.

Channel 7