The Government of Belize and three unions namely the Public Service Union (PSU), the Association of Public Service Senior Managers (APSSM), and the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) have yet to finalize negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The negotiations have dragged over the years and according to BNTU President, Senator Elena Smith the only item that remains outstanding is Proposal 22 in which the union is asking for an increase of allowances for teachers in grant-aided schools. With cost of living increase, Senator Smith says that teachers are expressing concerns and they want to begin a new round of negations to discuss new and updates issues.
Elena Smith, BNTU President: “For another salary adjustment we have to do a next round of negotiations but we cannot do that unless we conclude the one that we have and that one has not yet concluded. So we have written to the Minister to request that we continue with that process, we have not heard anything from him as yet not even an acknowledgment so far I’m not sure if he responded to any of the other union presidents but we have not heard anything and so we want to conclude that one so that we can start working on the other one. It has taken us about ten years, eight years or more and we have not concluded that one as yet. We would want to conclude if possible by summer but if not no later than the end of the year. The unions have been meeting so our side has been meeting and we have been going over those ones that were not concluded and putting together our position and we have been working together so we are supporting each other- even though it’s a matter for BNTU proposal 22 the other unions do support because they see what it is that we are fighting for so they support our proposal 22 as well and whatever it is they are putting forward we support as well because again we see the benefit of what they are putting forth. So we do have agreement among ourselves as unions it’s just for the other side to come to the table and for us to conclude. We already have several items that we want to include in the next set of negotiations, we have not yet looked salary increase because you know when we look at that there are several factors that we will have to look at and to see what would be the amount that we would be requesting. So we do have other benefits that we have already identified that we want to put in the next agreement and then we will work on the salary part of it as we move along. For now we need to conclude this one because a lot of these things are affecting our teachers.”
Senator Smith says that the list of talking points will include housing, land, and health insurance.