The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) remain in disagreement over the re-categorization of hardship and rural allowances for teachers.The BNTU says that even though it serves on the Joint Education Staff Relations Council, the Ministry of Education failed to consult them on the final list. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education held a press conference on Wednesday where it refuted their claim. Today, the BNTU held a press conference of its own, where the President Elena Smith further explained its side of the disagreement.
Elena Smith – President of BNTU: “The joint Education staff and Relations Council had a meeting of which BNTU is a part and at that meeting a committee was set up to review that list. That committee comprised Miss Cecilia Smith who was the chair at that committee, myself representing BNTU and Ms. Thompson representing General Managers and Miss Villafranco representing secondary schools. Now I want you to keep in mind the things that we would be reviewing are pertinent to Primary School teachers. Ms. Denac sits for Secondary schools, the one meeting that she attended was the meeting in which she requested that we have clear indication of what we are looking at or what we using to determine hardship categories and at that meeting was when we looked at criteria. From the first meeting we had of that committee I made it clear to that committee that BNTU was not in agreement with changing anything that was there however we know that there are schools that were not on the list and we were in agreement with putting those schools on the list so from the very first meeting the committee knew our position.
Smith said that the committee was tasked to review the list and then it would have made a recommendation to the Joint Education Staff Relations Council in order for them to make the final decision. However, that was never done. Smith said that they are just seeing the final list today.
Elena Smith – President of BNTU: “We maintain that the process was not completed and it must be completed, now today they sent us a letter and I will just share a portion of that with you and its dated September 28th if you want to see that letter. It came this morning as I said along with the list that was sent to school. They extend that to us this morning right, that the official list. It says attached to this correspondence is the list of schools as published by the Ministry to managing authorities. This information was previously shared with representatives of the BNTU and other members of the joint Education Staff Relations Council in June 2018. As we said, that was done, we were supposed to go through it so that the entire membership of that council could have understood what they were thinking when there was recommendations and then we would have voted on that to see whether we would have voted or not, because of time that was not explained, it was just shown, it was presented and the request they indicate which schools went up in terms of category in terms of category and which schools went down and so that was done and that list was shared via email.”
Smith insisted that the teachers get their hardship and rural allowances.
Elena Smith – President of BNTU: As BNTU we support that our teachers must be given this Hardship allowance. When we look in terms of what our teachers have to go through to get ot their place of work everyday and you will hear about that in just a few from our district presidents who can share with you exactly what their teachers go through on a daily basis. When we look at that it is very clear that our teachers deserve to get this allowance. In terms of the time off for pay and it is noted as time of for pay but we must understand that this time off is given to our teachers for them to transact business. Let us make it quite clear that as teachers in the classroom we do not have any opportunity to leave the classroom to go and do any type of business during school hours. We are different from public officers.
The BNTU will be meeting with the Ministry of Education on October 15th to voice their concerns as it relates to the list.