Headline — 22 October 2016 — by Micah Goodin
BNTU “seeking legal advice” on GOB refusal to pay strike salaries

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 19, 2016–Government has told the thousands of teachers across the country who participated in the BNTU’s industrial action that they will not receive salaries for the days they engaged in a strike in an effort to get the government to adopt good governance measures and address their labor-related concerns.

This new development was clearly stated in a memorandum issued on Tuesday from the Ministry of Education to all general managers of government and government-aided primary schools; boards of management and principals of government and government-aided secondary schools; and boards of management and deans of government and government-aided junior colleges.

“The Government of Belize/ Ministry of Education will be withholding its contribution toward the salaries for individual teachers for the days when those teachers were on strike. This will apply to all government and grant-aided schools.

“In the case of secondary schools, where the managing authority of a school took the decision to call off school in anticipation of the strike action notwithstanding their mandate to keep schools open, the Government’s contribution to salaries, plus any grant amount above that for services will be withheld for the number of days that the school was closed,” the memo said.

The memo, signed by Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education (MOE), Dr. Carol Babb, further revealed that the Ministry of Education had requested a report on attendance for all teachers at government and government-aided schools who went on strike so that their salary adjustment could be made.

This report documenting the attendance of thousands of teachers countrywide is to be submitted no later than 9 a.m. today, Wednesday.

The BNTU has not taken this latest action lightly and fired off a statement today, titled, “GOB/MOE…Stop the Aggravation.”

“We wish to advise and reassure our members/ teachers that the BNTU is currently seeking legal advice on this latest attack by the Government of Belize and the Ministry of Education to determine how to deal with the implications of this memo. Be reminded that we have only put our strike action ‘on hold.’ Despite our teachers’ good faith intent to make up lost time with our students, the government continues to act in bad faith by attempting to strong-hold the process governing payments of grants and salaries,” said the statement.

The statement concluded by reminding school managers that they are legally able to manage the process of salary payment and “not to succumb to the threats and bullying tactics by GoB/Ministry of Education.”

During its negotiations with Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the BNTU never discussed payments for the days it protested, as payments are directed by school managers and not the Government of Belize.

As a result, the BNTU is now seeking legal advice on the memo released by Chief Education Officer Carol Babb.

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