By Alexis R. Milan Staff Reporter
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) held a press briefing at their office on Tuesday and declared that January’s month of rallies was a success as the majority of their membership turned out to support the union’s cause.
The BNTU claimed that in Corozal and Orange Walk 95 percent of their membership attended the northern rallies. They claimed the attendance of 85 percent of their membership in Belize City, 95 percent in Belmopan, San Ignacio and Benque, 97 percent in Dangriga and 95 percent in Punta Gorda and Toledo rural.
The BNTU emphasized the point that not all teachers are union members resulting in the perception that there was poor turnout to the rallies. The union, however, disputed this notion and affirmed that they received incredible support from their registered membership.
BNTU President Luke Palacio said of the salary adjustment issue, “Our position remains that it is still a live issue,” even though the Prime Minister has declared that he will not commit to a floor for the adjustment. Palacio would not discuss the details of the meeting held last Thursday between the PM and the unions negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Palacio also expressed the BNTU’s support for the implementation of the recently tabled Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill which, has been lobbied for mainly by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB). Palacio stated, “That bill is very important, not just for workers but also employers.”
Palacio also said that as they held their rallies there was a public outcry to stop corruption in the country.
The BNTU President pointed to the dismissal of the Belize Airport Authority (BAA) Board while Minister of State Edmond Castro has suffered no penalties, as a sign that the issue of corruption has not been addressed.
Palacio also complained that while three public officers in the Immigration Department have been recommended for termination, former Minister Elvin Penner, though stripped of government vehicle and Committee Chairmanship, is still being paid by Belizean taxpayers as he sits in the House of Representatives. “This is not satisfactory. If there is wrong doing then let the police do their job,” said Palacio.
Palacio also called on the government to answer the call to implement a properly functioning Integrity Commission and Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The union also declared February as “Love Belize Month”, and said that they would march on in March. They also encouraged Belizeans to look out for and support the solidarity green wristbands which the union will be distributing in the next coming weeks.