BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Apr. 8, 2021– At this time, the membership of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) has not come to a final decision on whether or not they will accept the 10% salary cuts that are to be put in place by the government. Initially, the BNTU had stated that its membership was opposed to any form of salary cut or increment freeze.
Following the announcement by Prime Minister John Briceño of his government’s decision to continue as scheduled with the proposed pay cuts, and a two-day national convention held by the BNTU, their national president, Senator Elena Smith, updated the public on the union’s current position.
In essence, she shared that the Government has not given them adequate details of the concessions that the administration has proposed to provide as an incentive for the unions to accept the proposals.
“We cannot expect our members to say ‘yes, we will give up our ten because you are going to be giving us ABC,’ when they don’t know those details. And had we gotten those details in a letter, then that decision could have been taken today. So our members are now taking a position based on two things: a ten-percent across the board or a tiered approach which should amount to this sixty million and the twenty million,” Smith told News5.
The members of the union will now have to vote in order for the union to determine what position it will take and decide what kind of action they will take going forward. The union has since started a survey to arrive at this decision.
The Public Service Union (PSU), on the other hand, is awaiting legal advice before sending a letter of notice of industrial action to the government. Smith said that they would have to unite their forces and carry out industrial action on a different level and in different phases due to the difference in the composition of the two unions.
Smith said that the spirit of the negotiations died when the Prime Minister decided to unilaterally sign off on the salary cuts without getting the blessing of the Joint Unions.
“If you are not willing to move your goalpost from where you are and it has to be sixty or nothing; that’s not how we negotiate. That’s not how we consult. You don’t consult by coming to tell me, ‘I will do this and it matters not what you say, I will still do this’,” Smith said.
We will continue to follow this story.