Headline — 09 May 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Tit for tat, says BNTU prez, Senator Elena Smith

BNTU will withhold contributions to school management for day-pay deduction

BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 7, 2018– The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), the most organized and militant union in the country, agreed over the weekend to withhold the teachers’ contribution to school management, in protest over the insistence of  the management of many schools to deduct one day’s pay for the union’s protest against crime and violence against women and children, that was held in Belmopan on Thursday, March 22.

Since the idea of the salary deduction came from the Ministry of Education, whose minister is Hon. Patrick Faber, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, many of the church-led schools have opted for the day-pay deduction, although the salaries of most teachers come from the government, the senator told us.

Senator Elena Smith, the National President of the BNTU, told Amandala tonight that the management of many schools use the contributions from the teachers to pay themselves.

“It was agreed that we were going to ask our teachers not to make those contributions,” said Senator Smith.

Senator Smith added, “As long as the management will be deducting, then we will withhold our contributions from management who deduct.”

She said that it was the school managers who told them that they would deduct the day’s pay for those teachers who participated in the protest against violence. “And ministry was present when they said that. They met and most of them said that’s what they would do, and the ministry made it clear that they did not interfere; they did not give any instruction,” she said.

Senator Smith recalled that when they were in court the last time over pay docking, it was not the Ministry of Education which had decided to dock the teachers’ salary; it was the school managers.

“Most of these school managers are church-related and are paid by the government,” she explained, noting, “remember that there was a time when `the church would pay these managers; now, government pay some of them.”

We asked Senator Smith if the contribution that the teachers make to the school management is more than the day’s pay.

She said that it is in the region of 20 to 50 dollars per month, so it would not amount to a day’s pay for some of the teachers. “Some of the management asks for 1 percent and some ask for 10 percent”, she said.

“For now, it is going to be an indefinite withdrawal,” Senator Smith disclosed, adding that the BNTU’s position is a uniform decision.

Amandala asked Senator Smith how many teachers took part in the protest and are likely to be affected by the school management’s decision.

She said that well over one thousand teachers participated in the anti-crime protest.

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