Twelve teachers at the Anglican Cathedral College (ACC) have lawyered up to challenge deductions in their salaries. The group has hired the legal services of Attorney Orson Elrington after the teachers’ salaries were deducted in the last pay period despite being verbally informed by the school’s managing authority that the deductions would not happen. Senior Reporter Hipolito Novelo has the story.
Some twelve teachers of Anglican Cathedral College in Belize City say their salaries have unduly docked, collectively, thousands of dollars and have lawyered up. They are being represented by Attorney Orson “OJ” Elrington who told Love News that the legal fight is not with the government but with the school’s managing authority.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “This current dispute at this stage is not with the government so let me let that be clear. The teachers are considering action against the government for salary cut but that is separate and apart. This action, this current dispute is with the managing authority as you would know that the managing authority is autonomous from the Government of Belize and it actually would be appointed by the churches in this case the Anglican Cathedral.”
Pay slips we’ve seen show deductions totaling thousands of dollars. In this case, this teacher who earns a monthly salary of three thousand nine hundred dollars got almost one thousand, seven hundred dollars deducted. This other teacher who earns a monthly salary of three thousand seven hundred dollars was deducted almost one thousand six hundred dollars. The teachers say the managing authority broke is oral commitment and breached procedures.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “There was a oral commitment first and foremost from the managing authorities that there would not be a reductions but beyond that oral commitment there was a breach so far as the proper rules of administrative law as to how they would go about instituting these cuts. The way they went about effecting those cuts. How they came about making those cuts. Again the managing authorities by law does have the right to make those pay cuts if there is strike action but they do not have the authority to make those cuts arbitrarily and without following the proper process and procedure and that is the issue that the teachers currently have.”
Cabinet announced on May eighteenth that teachers who remain on strike beyond that day would see their salaries deducted. So these teachers, for last month’s pay cycle got nine days of pay deducted for continued strike action but they say they were told that wasn’t going to be the case. Their attorney says that the teachers are also being asked to make up for the days lost. It’s being called a “Learning Recovery Plan”
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “So basically that the teachers make up for the time that has been lost but there is no commitment that they would be reimbursed for that time lost and that is effectively where they have a problem. The teachers have already said the pay cut you cut it out so if you want to institute this learning recovery plan we have no problem with that, we want to ensure that the children get their full academic schedule complete and that they finish their calendar but we would want at minimum as one would understand that you give a commitment that the funds which have been deducted would be returned and that is where we are today.”
The weight of that verbal agreement will be put to the test if the case proceed further in the courts. But in the meantime, Elrington says that the teachers rather settle the matter of court.
Orson “OJ” Elrington, Attorney: “It is our hope that this matter, it is our genuine hope that this matter can be resolved amicably and it can be resolved quickly again because these teachers are suffering. It is a hard thing to be trying to work on two thirds of your salary so it is our desire that this matter be resolved as quickly as possible and without the intervention of the courts and without the cost that follows trying to take this matter before a court to try to resolve.”