“In Unity, There is Strength!”, goes the old saying, and if the gathering of community and social activists and official social partner organizations on display at the headquarters of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) in Belize City this morning is any indication, then the Government may have something to worry about.
Social partners from across the spectrum of issues – land, governance, democracy, society, labour and many more – have joined forces to form a new alliance that puts all these issues on a level playing field.
We hear more from the President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, Dylan Reneau, who puts the alliance in perspective and announces the first plans.
“The truth is that each of these organizations have been trying to address their issues with little to know success. So, we recognize the power of numbers and the power of unity, and to basically answer your question, certainly it has forced us to come together to use our collective power to address our issues. Preliminarily, we are focused on Saturday’s demonstration. We are expecting to have a significant amount of the population support this issue because I know it deals with land rights and that there are so many Belizeans that do not have a piece of land for themselves. So, we are pushing our collective might behind that issue”.
The new Rod of Correction will employ dialogue with Government among its strategies, but are things building up to a national demonstration like the one in 2005, which also featured union leadership? Reneau says that though he is tired of the same formula, he is prepared to use it if need be.
Dylan Reneau: “I always have this concern about having numbers to make a point. If one person there that is newsworthy, you will cover that because it is addressing an issue. But certainly in the Unions have to be more forthright; they have to mobilize and show the collective power that we have within our membership. So, I agree with you; we have to show our faces on Saturday in mass”.
Reporter: “But, will you all be meeting with your membership before Saturday and before the national demonstration plan to get them out?”
Dylan Reneau: “This is the first call being made to our members to be out there on Saturday. If the unions are supporting it, we would want our membership to support this move. We recognize that there is no magic bullet; there is no one event solution to our issues. So, certainly it will be the start and that is ii…it’s a start”.
The Church will be an important partner. Representing Belize Action and the Evangelical Association of Belize was Pastor Scott Stirm.
“There are representatives from a number of different organizations that have come together and shown their different concerns and they are going to be giving a press release and the results to the media. I would say, for our part, the Evangelical Association is as well as Belize Action, we are invited in the meeting. we definitely want to be here for the concerns. We feel very, very strongly about government of the people, by the people and for the people , which is democracy”.
Reporter: “Will there be any action? I know you can’t go into details because there will be a release, but should we expect a press release of a face of agitation will be embarked upon”.
Pastor Scott Stirm: “Again, I will need to defer to the leadership of that, but I think that there is a number of large concerns that are shared by people from different situations that are happening and that there needs to be a strong spirit of consultations and togetherness to be able to resolve our problems
Among the groups represented are SATIIM, BGYEA, COLA, the Evangelical Association of Churches, the trade unions and there are plans to incorporate other members of civil society such as the Chamber of Commerce.