Faber promises compensation to teachers who did not strike
Monday, April 10th, 2017
Minister of Education, Honorable Patrick Faber made an announcement on Monday, April 3rd stating that the Ministry of Education (MOE) had $1 million dollars to distribute to teachers who did not participate in the Belize National Teachers Union’s (BNTU) 11-day strike in October 2016. BNTU President Luke Palacio issued a press release in response, accusing both the MOE and the Government of Belize (GOB) of Union Busting.
Faber said that $1 million was allocated to honor the “loyal” teachers. “So while it is we cannot fully compensate those teachers who attended school on those days, we thought that it would be important for us to give some kind of honorarium to those teachers and so in consultation with the Prime Minister Dean Barrow, and we have agreed to set aside $1 million dollars that will be divided among those teachers. We are hoping that this can be done before the Easter break comes,” said Faber.
The MOE stated that the BNTU were supposed to make up days missed during the strike on January 3-6, 2017. However, the BNTU did not adhere to the MOE’s suggestion, and returned to school on January 9th instead. The BNTU argued that they were prepared to make up the time by having extra sessions or the school days to extend for half hour each day for a maximum number of days, which would cover the six makeup days.
The BNTU views the announcement as a way for the GOB to punish teachers who stood up against the ‘glaring act of corrupt practices that were being meted out on the Belizean people’. “The BNTU sees this as a clear case of the government’s continued attempt at union busting. We say this simply because we went to court, and the Honorable Chief Justice had asked us to go to mediation. On our own free, we agreed to go to mediation, and the process was fairly intense. In fact, we went beyond the prescribed time. But the atmosphere, the discussion seemed as one at which we were definitely arriving at some kind of amicable solution, if you will, to the problem,” said Palacio.
Palacio also stated that salary adjustment and the compensation for those who went on strike should be reflected in April’s 2017 salary. For those teachers benefiting from the additional compensation, the BNTU urges teachers and school managers to reject the payments, and asked that the funds be used to make improvements to school buildings and equipment.
Palacio’s term as BNTU president will come to an end after serving three consecutive years. The election for the BNTU’s new president is scheduled for Monday, April 20th in the Corozal District.