The Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) has been pressing for a salary adjustment from 2005 – and after comments by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his New Year’s Address to the Nation, it would seem they are on the verge of getting it. But before we get into the BTNU’s response, here’s a look at that video clip from the Prime Minister’s New Years message in which he commented on the salary increase to public officers and teachers.
“But in 2014, there is much to expect from this administration’s commitment to continued progress and its record of promise fulfillment. Principals amongst the headline grabbers are the raise of pay for teachers and public officers. With the stale too early to calculate exactly the percentage of the salary increase that will be paid in August , retrospective to April, the formula is that the public servants will get 50 cents out of very additional dollar of recurring revenue which governments collects. As of December, those recurrent revenues were up significantly over general projections and this trend is expected to continue through the end of the financial year. Thus, the preliminary estimates are that when coupled with the annual 2% fixed in current that this administration restored, the raise for those paid by government, will be substantial indeed”.
Today, the Union hosted the press conference at its Belize City headquarters where president Luke Palacio outlined the chief concern of the Union as to the Prime Minister’s statement.
“The reasons why BNTU and APSSL and the Public Service Union have been negotiating in good faith and in fact, very patient in trying to ensure that our members keep their calm, that our members try to understand what is going on and how negotiations work. But when it appears that now, the Prime Minister wants to move the gold post, we feel very much offended about this and our membership wants us to demonstrate this in no uncertain terms that we are not satisfied; we have been clamoring against the disrespect that has been shown to the unions in these negotiations and we are very much concerned that that practice seems to continue” .
According to Palacio, the teachers very much deserve the adjustment, but they also wish to ensure that the public understands why they have been awarded it. He was flanked by second vice-president and president of the Belize District branch Kathleen Flowers, who expanded on that aspect of the adjustment.
“When we get that salary adjustment before we blink our eyes twice, it will be gone, especially for the fact that we are going to be spending so much money in our classrooms to get them ready for September 2014. that is something that happens every year, but teachers don’t talk about it, about the $500 dehn come out a dih smaaal salary in June and July to get the classroom ready in August to meet the demands that will be ahead of them. They don’t tell you that. There are so many families that are short come September because we have to buy all those charts in the classroom, we have to put the resources in there for each aids we need to teach with teaching aids. In this era of technology, teachers are buying their own projector for the classroom; in this era of technology, because the management is demanding this, but they are not giving us the resources”.
The Union also clarified that the adjustment is separate from the annual increments given to teachers and public servants, which are based on merit and performance. Palacio says that while they await a response from the Prime Minister, the Union is not about to let down its guard. There is no word as to when the two sides will meet to iron out their differences.