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BNTU Marches on the Capital

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Today was the day that the Ministry of Education gave the Belize National Teachers Union a deadline to speak to low-level school management regarding issues that the union had brought to the ministry. Since the union only negotiates as a team with higher-ups in the ministry and the fact that the Minister of Education had made statements which they felt were untrue, the BNTU felt it necessary to respond not by writing an email but by putting their foot to the pavement.  Love News was along the ring road as the union marched in Belmopan.

Jose Sanchez: Two buses from the BNTU branches were filled with teachers who went to Capitol to send a message with no less than 1200 of the fighting greenis. The Caravan of teachers started to walk from Belmopan Comprehensive High school once around the ring road with both Union and the Belize Flag leading their charge.

Crowd sings: To make us free”

Jose Sanchez: “Teacher Isela Tesecum from Benque are marching for their commuting allowance. “

Isela Tesecum: “I have been like for more than three years not receiving that committing allowance.  I was receiving a $30 because I commute from Benque down to Succotz and I have to be paying a Taxi $3 to come to school and $3 to go back everyday and for the past three years I have not been receiving any commuting allowance, we have teachers that travel from San Ignacio to Benque Viejo and these teachers are paying something like $6 a day to reach to and from work and the same thing is happening to them, we have some of them that have not been receiving their committing allowance for over a year now.”

Jose Sanchez: “After walking through the sweltering sun the Caravan reached the Belmopan Civic Center for a rally that had speakers from the various partner Unions and Pastor.”

Pastor Louis Wade: “Don’t stop! you are the few people who are able to get out our politicians to do the right thing, don’t give up. Fight on.”

Presenter: “So today I came as Lady Justice and thats what has brought us all here, we have measured the heart of our beloved Minister of Education, he does no measure up.“

Presenter 2: “Patrick no want give our teachers their hardship allowance, teachers who have to get up 4 o’clock in the morning and track through mud and dirt and go through all kinds of ins and outs and all kind on thing in order to get to school and get back home. The man no want pay the commuting allowance, this is the money that we pay to get to work.”

Mose Hyde President CWU: “and one of the big people at Niche said well what happened is that when the Minister go on rough road he need the Hilux, That the Minister of Education who occasionally has to go in remote areas needs special assistance for that, what kind of knock head can’t understand that teachers… * Clap* *Pause* so I can’t understand how you rather quarrel with BNTU over a little help out. “

Jose Sanchez: “The BNTU had been told that Cabinet believes the issues of Proposal 22 and allowances can be discussed.”

Elena Smith President BNTU: “For us the hardship matters is one of the main ones and that is where the schools are being recategorized and so some schools are being taken off the list, some are being added onto the list and some are being downgraded and so teachers who are in a higher category are now moved down to lower category and that means that these teachers then would be getting less monies that they would normally be getting. The fight today is not for money so let me make that very clear, we are not asking for an increase in allowance, we are asking that we be called to table as the bargaining agent for our teachers, for us to discuss and finalize the matter of these schools being categorized, the other issues is of Proposal 22 which is apart of our negotiations, as you heard the Minister saying “that matter was off the table and was no longer a live issue”. We kept saying that matter is still on the table and we would not give it up and as you heard we got a letter from the Prime Minister and he is agreeing that we should meet and discuss the matter because he sees no reason why we should be at this point right now.”

Jose Sanchez: “You had some correspondence late yesterday with the Prime Minister in regarding Proposal 22, what was he saying?”

Elena Smith President BNTU: “Well the Prime Minister was saying that the matter was discussed at Cabinet based on the letter that we sent to him and that Cabinet felt that these are matters that we could trash out just by having sit downs and discussing the matter and so he has agreed that the Minster should then meet with us and have these discussions so we can finalize these matters. If it is that we cannot get to any finality with the matter then the Prime Minister will step in and he will take over these matters.”

Crowd Sings: ”This is the light of mine”

Jose Sanchez: “ After some arousing speeches at the Belmopan Civic Center the BNTU and its members moved over to the steps of the National Assembly building to give a message to the Government, though symbolic to let them know that they will not be moved when it comes to proposal 22 and other issues. Jose Sanchez for Love News”

The protest finished late in the afternoon. Though there was police presence surrounding Independence Plaza, as well as a rope to prevent the teachers from walking up the stairs, the protest was peaceful

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