February 2, 2014
The Editor Amandala
This week the Belize National Teachers’ Union (B.N.T.U.) completed a series of six rallies that took it throughout the country. The rallies were historic. It was the first time in this back-to-back UDP administration that a union took to the streets to demand its attention on major issues. And despite government’s attempt to scare the teachers from standing up for their rights, the rallies were all well attended.
Topics covered at each event included the need for progress with negotiations for the long overdue salary increase for teachers and respect for teachers from the Minister of Education. Teachers also used the rallies to demand decisive action on national issues that are a major hindrance to progress in the country.
The teachers explained that they deserve not the pittance of 4% salary increase the government is offering them, but a minimum salary increase of 10% to catch up with the tremendous increase in the cost of living since their last salary increase nine years ago, in 2005. The teachers are also demanding an end to Minister of Education Patrick Faber’s continuous, unfounded, and baseless public monthly slander of their union and the teaching profession. That is done repeatedly when the Minister uses every opportunity to accuse the BNTU of defending teachers who are incompetent, not functioning, and child molesters, and question whether the teachers deserve the salary increase they are asking for.
On the national issue of corruption the teachers agree with all other right thinking Belizeans that one of the main reasons why the country lacks funds for needed community projects is because crooked UDP politicians are brazenly and unconscionably robbing the national treasury of hundreds of thousands of dollars every month with bloated contracts, the illegal sale of Belizean passports and visas, and the treating of statutory bodies like the Belize Airport Authority as their personal piggy bank. And like other patriotic Belizeans the teachers are demanding that the Prime Minister fire those scamps, including Penner, Castro, and Boots from positions of power and allow them to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, if he is serious about fighting corruption as he promised at the start of his second term.
Since like other Belizeans the lives of teachers are also affected by what is happening in their community, they are also demanding that government take decision action to reduce the crippling high rate of unemployment, the terrible shortage of housing for deserving families, and the shortage of land for people to build their homes. We all agree with the teachers when they say that the denial of those and others basic services in the country is forcing hundreds of more Belizeans into a life of poverty every year.
As patriotic Belizeans let us all support the teachers’ struggle for a just salary increase and urgent attention to the other issues hindering progress in Belize because they are fighting for a better country for all Belizeans.
Hats off to the teachers of Belize.