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An important vote for teachers

FeaturesAn important vote for teachers

by Rudolph A. Neal

Thurs. Mar. 9, 2023

By now, it is common knowledge that Senator Elena Smith, president of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), has served out her term as BNTU president, and is preparing to leave office. With this, the way has been made for the election of a new president and national executive to steer the helm of one of the most powerful and indomitable unions in our country. Senator Elena Smith has served the BNTU with great valor and distinction, and by extension the country, when she rose to the occasion to demand better working and living conditions for teachers and advocated for good governance for the country. As leader of the BNTU, she has successfully negotiated many benefits on behalf of teachers, and held the government to account on behalf of the Belizean people. Now, as she prepares to vacate such a prestigious post, the teachers of Belize have an important decision to make.

The BNTU convention to elect a new president and national executive is set to take place in the middle of next month in Orange Walk. Several persons have so far expressed their interest in vying for the available positions, with a few notable names seeking to succeed Smith as president. As aspirants begin to mount their internal campaigns to make their pitch and sell themselves to teachers as the next viable and competent leader, teachers have to be extremely careful and calculating. This election comes at a crucial juncture and a pivotal time in the Union’s service, and the vote that teachers have to make is an incredibly important one.

This election, while it is an internal BNTU election for teachers to choose their next executive, is being closely monitored by the political factions of this country. And one would understand why. There is great benefit to a government in power to have one of their supporters head such a powerful group; just as it is beneficial to an opposition to ensure that the aforementioned doesn’t occur, so as to bolster their viability and electability to office at the next election. Thus, teachers must be prudent and astute and carefully screen these persons vying for these positions, especially that of the president.

The government and the teachers are currently engaged in fierce negotiations on a range of issues, with pension reform, proposal 22 and closing the current CBA being the most important. Electing a president or an executive who is politically aligned can create great danger within the formidable union and thus render it defective. At this most critical juncture, when the Union is engaged with the government over pertinent issues, teachers need to be shrewd and calculating and elect an independent and objective leader who will pick up the mantle, forge forward and carry on the battle so that the Union may remain a formidable force to reckon with. The political hawks are hovering around this election and prowling about this important decision. Teachers, you have the power to choose how your Union will be run and the direction in which it will go. This is arguably one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make: choose and vote, wisely. 

Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist.

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