Belize Cabinet Calls for a Return to the Negotiating Table

Posted: Tuesday, October 4, 2016. 12:05 p.m. CST.


By BBN Staff:The Cabinet of Belize has issued a press release regarding the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) strike.

According to the release, Cabinet is disappointed that the BNTU blatantly moved the goalposts in deciding to strike and closing the nation’s schools as it affects both the children and their parents.

“The initial BNTU campaign was first declared to be centered on a good governance agenda as set out in the eight demands contained in their letter to the Prime Minister. However, the formal strike notice sent to the Chief Education Officer dated September 30, 2016, did a switch and listed the 3% salary adjustment and the so-called Proposal 22 as the main reasons for the strike. Yet, the BNTU had already acknowledged that the Prime Minister has proposed a compromise on the 3%, to which the BNTU has not yet responded; and that Government is seeking to reconvene the Joint Unions’ Negotiating Team to further discuss the compromise, the release states.

In the release, Cabinet points out that Proposal 22 was part of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) process between Government and the three Unions.

“That process was recently brought to a formal close with all sides accepting that Proposal 22 is to be dealt with as part of the next CBA exercise, for which a commencement date is to be fixed later. The Minutes of the exit meeting of the last CBA make this position clear, and the other two Unions involved can attest to the fact,” Cabinet explains.

Cabinet asserts that the BNTU action is extremely harmful and out of proportion and further state that, “In the interests of the children, the parents and the country, suspend the strike; return to the negotiating table regarding the 3%; and respect the process which concluded the last CBA and postponed consideration of Proposal 22.”

“The BNTU now seems to have relegated the good governance agenda to second fiddle. Cabinet nevertheless reiterates Government’s willingness to further discuss this with the BNTU and other social partners, in particular the Belize Council of Churches, the National Trade Unions Congress of Belize, and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”

The release ends by saying, “Cabinet is certain that final agreement can be reached on a good governance agenda, which is already being implemented, with the remaining outstanding issues entirely capable of resolution.”

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