By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Education has threatened to dock the pay of teachers who attend the Belize National Teachers Union rally scheduled for Friday, but the BNTU says that its rally will proceed as planned.
Minister of Education Hon. Patrick Faber told the media this week that the Ministry intends to penalize teachers who miss work to go to the rally by taking it out of their pay in accordance with Rule 102 of the Education Rules 2000.
The Ministry also issued a release on Tuesday saying that while it does respect the teacher’s right to associate, the education of Belize’s children will be “short changed” by their absence.
BNTU President, Luke Palacio, told Reporter that the union is unfazed by what he calls the “Ministry’s intimidation tactics”.
“Despite the threats we are expecting representation from all 10 of our branches,” Palacio added.
He explained that union members complained that school managements and ministry officials threatened to deduct as much as three-days salary from teachers who attend the rally.
The BNTU responded to the Ministry quoting from the Education Rules number 133 that Saturday and Sunday are not teaching days and these cannot be included in the ministry’s disciplinary action.
The union also called out the Ministry for having a double standard, by closing down schools so teacher’s could attend the 20,000 Women Rally hosted by the Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children, but then threatening salary deductions for teachers who attend Friday’s rally.
The BNTU’s rally addresses a number of national issues apart from the salary adjustment for teachers and public officers, including income tax reform, a fixed date for the signing of the thirteenth senator legislation, and enactment of the Accountability in Public Life legislation.
The BNTU, in tandem with all unions under the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, is calling for a full investigation into the Immigration and Nationality scandal involving ex-Minister of State Elvin Penner and South Korean national Won Hong Kim.