National President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union, Senator Elena Smith, has indicated that the union plans to proceed with court action to challenge the salary cut. The teaches are asking the court to review specific terms of their personal employment contracts and agree with them that they were assured to be paid a certain amount. UDP Chairman Michael Peyrefitte, who served as Attorney General, believes that the teachers can make their case.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Party Chairman: “I am sure that a case can be made, a case can always be made but it’s just that it’s surprising for me the unions in the past they’ve always been able to flex and get what they want it’s kinda surprising to me now that they don’t flex with as much vigor as when we were in government. But as Ms.Pitt’s said I’m sure they have a plethora of lawyers, they’re very strong within the country and I’m sure that they can get people who will give them better advice than me.” will give them better advice than me.”
We also asked Peyrefitte’s successor, Attorney General Magali Marin Young about it today. Marin-Young says the teachers have the right to file a claim.
Magali Marin Young, Attorney General of Belize: “Every citizen, every organization’s right to challenge in the reduction of salaries the government was very careful in it’s decisions leading up to whatever legislative measures had to be implemented. So I believe that those legislative amendments and regulations were made on sound legal basis but it’s up to anybody to challenge them.”
Reporter: And then to clarify I think a separation was made in terms of members of the Judiciary like Magistrates and so they are also still getting a cut just under a different documentation ?
Magali Marin Young, Attorney General of Belize: “No the Judiciary is not subject to the salary cut. The judiciary enjoys what we called separation of powers which is one of the bedrock principles under our constitution. That means that the Legislature cannot impose it’s will on the Judiciary. Security of tenure not only guarantees a certain term but it also includes the security in terms of their emoluments so we did not take any legislative measures to reduce the salary of members of the Judiciary.”