Headline — 19 October 2016 — by Micah Goodin
BNTU balks, but PSU, APSSM say yes to Barrow

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 17, 2016–Teachers will not report to classes tomorrow, Tuesday, as the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) heads into its eleventh day of protest.

Today, Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with the BNTU, the Public Service Union (PSU) and the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM,) offering two new proposals.

Firstly, in exchange for their unanimous acceptance of the three percent deferral of their salary adjustment until next April, the Prime Minister announced that government would pay the unions an interest of 5% on the sum of the deferral, which hovers at around $600,000.

He also proposed that he would table legislation to amend Section 13 of the Social Security Act, allowing for coverage of employees who travel to and from work in vehicles other than those owned by their employers.

Firstly though, said PM Barrow, “the unions, I propose, can form a working group to go over the sort of language that would give what we all want, but also contain safeguards and restrictions against abuse.”

Upon the completion of that part of the process by the unions, Cabinet would then pass those documents to the draftsmen in the Attorney General’s ministry, which would then prepare it for a submission to the House of Representatives, where it would be voted on, he said.

However, before it is tabled in the House of Representatives, the public will have an opportunity to register their pleasure or displeasure with it.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister emphasized that he could not guarantee the passage of that amendment, but told the media today that government would naturally support it.

While the PSU and the APSSM have already accepted the Prime Minister’s proposals, the BNTU has not, and is at this time in consultation with its membership.

According to BNTU president, Luke Palacio, tomorrow Tuesday, the BNTU’s decision will be made public.

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