Headline — 07 March 2014 — by Adele Ramos
Teachers will “flex” in Belmopan

2014-2015 budget reading scheduled for Friday

Despite a notice from the Ministry of Education that the salary of teachers who will participate in Friday’s march on Belmopan will be docked for three days, the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) is still pressing ahead with plans to hold a rally and demonstration at the steps of the National Assembly tomorrow, when Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow is expected to read the national budget.

Barrow had announced that the new budget includes an additional $22 million to finance a 5% salary adjustment for teachers and public officers. However, the BNTU said that it’s not all about the money – and there are pressing national issues—such as corruption—which the Government has failed to address.

BNTU estimates that it has around 6,000 members, but we are told that the announcement from the Ministry, that the pay of teachers who participate in tomorrow’s demonstration will be docked, has dampened the drive to get teachers onboard.

“We are very disappointed in this move to intimidate the teachers of this country,” said Luke Palacio, BNTU’s national president, in a statement issued Wednesday.

Palacio added that it is not legal for weekend salaries to be cut, since Saturdays and Sundays are not considered schooldays.

Moreover, he said that the ministry is operating on a double-standard, because it afforded teachers the permission today to attend the women’s empowerment rally organized by the Prime Minister’s wife, but teachers are being told that if they go to tomorrow’s demonstration, they will lose Friday’s pay, as well as the weekend’s.

Kathleen Flowers, BNTU vice president, told Amandala that the Belize City branch, which she heads, has hired four buses which will leave Belize City around 7:00 Friday morning, and tonight’s stormy weather notwithstanding, as far as she knows, the march is still on.

She said that members are saying that they cannot afford to lose money, but the union does not have a fund to compensate members for lost pay. Flowers said, though, that this is something they will have to look at establishing shortly.

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