BELIZE CITY, Wed. Feb. 22, 2017–The Ministry of Education has officially abandoned its stance that it would dock the salaries of teachers who staged 11 days of protest in October of last year in their demand for the Government of Belize to adopt a list of good governance policies.
As a result, thousands of teachers across the country will collect their full salaries and the school year will be extended by six days so as to make up time lost in accordance with the Education rules.
This is the result of a Supreme Court-ordered mediation between the Belize National Teachers Union and the Ministry of Education, which began three weeks ago.
You will recall that last November, the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) had to file an injunction to block the salary dock and additionally, did not return to classes on January 3 when the Ministry had formally announced that classes would resume.
However, since the start of the mediation, both parties had remained silent until Tuesday when they emerged from the chambers of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.
BNTU president Luke Palacio, on Tuesday, told the media, “We were asked then to go to mediation. We’ve completed that process and today, the judge perfected the order in terms of what we have agreed to…both parties have agreed that, and I need to say this even before we go on, that we had insisted during the strike that we were prepared to make up the time. It was just the manner in which the ministry acted that pushed us, if you will, to decide that we’re not going to go with that, and we came to court.”
He added, “We have now agreed that we are going to make up those days as an order of the court, based on our mediation that we are going to give back 6 full days of classes; the first three will be done on the first 3 days of the Easter break, and the second three will be done on the first 3 days of our July vacation period.”
According to Palacio, he will encourage the members of the BNTU to make up the time, as has been agreed to. According to him, that was never an issue and the BNTU was always ready to make up time, but would not allow for a pay cut.
We tried to reach Chief Education Officer, Carol Babb, for comment, but were unsuccessful.