Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2023. 7:15 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Though not as long as the stevedores and the Port of Belize Limited, the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) says it has been waiting nearly 15 years, across multiple administrations, for a collective bargaining agreement – and it will only wait as long as the end of this school year any further.
The sticking point, known as Proposal 22, is final payments for secondary school teachers, whom President Elena Smith said do much the same work as those in the system in primary schools and government-run secondary schools. As she reminded, it is the teachers who put together the work students did during COVID and are doing now to get back to where they should be.
But the churches that run schools are claiming they cannot afford the payment, so Smith said Government will have to take up the slack. “BNTU continues to say that this is one matter that we will not give up on. We will fight to the bitter end to ensure that our teachers get what they rightfully deserve,” she stated, noting that it will cost far less than an ugly court fight that will involve spending on attorneys.
Secondary school teachers should also be getting the same allowances as those at the primary level, such as commuting allowances and hardship allowances for those teaching in rural areas, saying the Union is as “justified” in its call as the Government claims to be in raising its allowances.
Smith suggested that there is no audit of the educational administrations per denomination that justifies the claim of “no money no deh:” “Now, you own a school, you have employees and you know what are your responsibilities and you don’t prepare for thirty-five years down the road when a teacher is going to retire and then the government will say to us, they don’t have money. They can’t afford it. All of us give collection and those teachers have to fundraise at their schools to be able to assist those schools. So, what are we doing with those [sums of] money? Have those schools been audited? How do we know that they don’t have the funds? Did you go and audit them?”
Those who have ears to hear, she concluded, let them hear and heed, or else the Union would know the way to get them to listen.
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