Latest — 14 November 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
BNTU and Ministry of Education begin charting a way forward

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 12, 2018– Five days ago, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) marched on Belmopan in a show of determination and strength, but today in Belize City, the union met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Hon. Patrick Faber, and a team from the Ministry of Education, to begin discussions over the unresolved issues that prompted the union’s protest and rally last week.

BNTU National President, Senator Hon. Elena Smith, briefed reporters after the meeting this afternoon at the Marion Jones Sports Complex.

Hon. Smith told reporters that today’s meeting was held to chart a way forward on the matters pending between the government and the union, “to look at Proposal 22 and the hardship allowance.”

She was asked if she would say how the meeting went, and she said that they have agreed to hold other meetings to determine how they are going to go forward.

She stressed that this was just a meeting to chart the way forward.

Hon. Smith was asked if teachers’ salaries will be docked as a result of Wednesday’s protest, but she replied that the matter did not come up.

Deputy Prime Minister Faber said that the media was to blame for the state of affairs, because the media “stirred the mud.”

Hon. Faber, like the BNTU president, said that the meeting today was held to determine how the two parties would go forward.

He apparently walked back his comment that Proposal 22 was off the table. Today, in listing the issues that are outstanding between the union and the government, he referred to the four community schools, and whether those institutions want to come under government ownership or remain as community schools. “We formed a committee to deal with that issue”, he said.

Hon. Faber said that there was some misunderstanding when he said that the matter was not a live issue, because “we had already agreed on this issue, and so we just confirmed that that is the position today.”

“We agreed to support the teachers in their quest to try to get those management to pay their commitment, which is the original agreement,” Hon. Faber said.

“We discussed commuting allowances; and where it is that the teachers handed in some kind of applications, and in some cases, it did not reach the ministry, it probably got to the management and the management did not submit them; we agreed to honor them,” Hon. Faber explained.

Hon. Faber characterized the meeting as “a very cordial meeting.”

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