By Benjamin Flowers Staff Reporter
Hundreds of teachers took to Belize City’s streets in peaceful protest last Friday morning, as the Belize district branch of Belize National Teachers Union took their turn at the country wide tour.
The rally started off at the Constitution Park with approximately 350 teachers, but the numbers eventually grew to about 500 in the prime of the rally, which was held at the Battlefield Park.
The event was the third instalment of the BNTU’s protests to emphasize to the government that teachers are serious about getting their salaries raised.
“We have not gotten a salary adjustment since 2005 and therefore we stand up today in solidarity and we want to send a message loud and clear to the Minister of Education,” said Luke Palacio, president of the BNTU.
Palacio also said that the rally’s turnout was affected by intimidation from principals, managers and even the minister himself.
Public Relations Officer for the BNTU’s Belize City branch, Ian Mariano, said that the union printed some 1200 shirts for the protest.
Mariano explained that the BNTU Belize District branch has a membership of approximately 900; 300 shirts were printed for non-members; however, with modest estimations putting the rally at 500, the movement was missing more than half of the expected participants.
In his new years message, Prime Minister Dean Barrow promised teachers 50 cents out of every additional dollar of recurrent revenue for a salary increase for teachers.
The BNTU rallies and protests are expected to continue over the next few weeks.