BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 29, 2021– On Monday night, after hours of discussions with government representatives, the National President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU), Elena Smith, provided the members of her union with an update during a private livestream.
Smith was not able to divulge what was discussed in the meeting, but told her members that the day was long and that the negotiations were intense and challenging. She also informed them that the meeting which took place on Monday will be followed by two others — one on Good Friday, April 2, and another on Easter Monday, April 5.
The main purpose of the live update, Smith shared, was for members to get an idea where the Joint Union Negotiation Team is with the negotiations, as well as to to briefly outline what they had planned, and to call for the support of the membership.
Smith said that some members seem to believe that the union is not doing enough to protect its members’ interests. She asked members to understand the negotiation progress and to allow them space to negotiate. She reassured members that at all times, the union leadership is guided by the mandate set forward by its membership and not by personal positions.
Smith asked her membership for time to see the process through and for support and trust during the negotiation, since no final agreement has yet been reached. She assured the membership that they will formulate solutions and proposals that can be accepted by all members, but at this time the negative feedback from some quarters is not helping the process.
“We don’t want to be going into these negotiations worrying that our members are not supporting us, our members are not believing us, our members don’t feel that we are doing enough for them. So I trust that you will understand that and that you would understand the impact that can have on us, your leaders, who are going through these negotiations. It is not an easy road, members, and I’m sure that you are aware of that, and we know the responsibility that we have on our shoulders right now, because you, our members, are expecting us to do the best for you, and that is what we have been doing as your leaders. Doing our best to ensure that you are impacted as least as possible,” Smith said.
She emphasized that in negotiations, parties may not get exactly what they desire, but reassured the members of her union that their representatives are doing their best to ensure that they “have [the] backs” of the members.
Smith said that on Tuesday, they will hold meetings with the Corozal branch of BNTU. Subsequently, a full day of meetings will be held on Wednesday, when the BNTU branches from San Ignacio, Benque, Belmopan, Stann Creek, Toledo Rural, and Punta Gorda will have discussions with the union leaders. On Thursday, the leaders will meet with the Orange Walk branch.
Smith said that they will give their members an update and hope to get a mandate from the union’s membership to move forward.
As mentioned, the Joint Unions are scheduled to have meetings with GOB representatives on Good Friday and Easter Monday.