BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Nov. 17, 2016–Friday, November 25, is the last pay day for teachers before the Christmas holidays. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Education has indicated that it will withhold salary contributions to teachers who spent eleven days away from their schools in protest against the government.
In an effort to prevent this from taking place, the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) has retained the legal services of attorney Eamon Courtenay.
Courtenay wrote the Ministry on Friday demanding that it desists from withholding the salary contributions it ought to give to school managers. Monday had been the deadline that had been set for the Ministry to respond to the letter, but it never did.
On Wednesday, Courtenay formally filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Education and by extension, the Government of Belize.
In the lawsuit, Courtenay is first requesting that an order be made to restrict the Ministry from withholding salary contributions of the teachers who went on strike, as the Government is required by law to make monthly contributions to managing authorities of various schools to help them meet salaries for teachers.
Furthermore, Courtenay is seeking to have the court rule that the Ministry’s decision to withhold its contribution toward the salaries of individual teachers is unlawful, null and void as it contradicts the Constitution and the Education and Training Act and Education Rules.
Additionally, Courtenay wants the court to rule that Rule 102 (1) of the Education Rules, which the government is relying on for withholding its contributions, is unconstitutional, as it violates Section 3 (b) and 13(1) of the Constitution.
Courtenay and the BNTU now await a date for their suit to be heard.