The Public Service Union (PSU) has made its position clear on the foregoing of increments for public officers. The Belize National Teacher’s Union (BNTU) has not been that forthcoming as they seem to be unsure of what the teachers are willing to agree to regard the cutbacks proposed by the Government. As a matter of fact, the BNTU’s President, Elena Smith told Love News that they will not have an official position until after their meeting with the Prime Minister. Smith added that the conditions set forth by the PSU to the Government are part of the good governance that the National Trade Union Congress had rallied for earlier this year.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “The NTUCB was out recently talking about good governance and so being accountable is a part of that. So the PM’s position in terms of PSU what he has said in terms of he seems to be saying that you either accept what it is that we are proposing or I take the other route and I make some amendments to the regulation- if that is what he is referring to then yes you might want to say that there’s not much room there but I do believe that if we are able to sit and the Prime Minister is willing to listen to what we have to present to him and he listens to us not just to defend but to really and truly hear what it is that we are saying and understand that what we have been saying all along. That as unions we are not saying that we are not willing to sacrifice what it is that we are saying is that the government must be willing to do more in terms of putting our finances in a better position and so for that reason then we are hoping that the cost saving measures would be – that he’d be able to listen to us and accept that the proposals that we have are really and truly things that are good for our country. In terms of our position we have not provided government with our final position because as I’ve said before we our teachers still have questions and we keep seeking clarifications from the Financial Secretary and we do hope that in tomorrow’s meeting we’ll be able to get some more clarifications that we can then share with our members and from there give a final position.”
Other than the PSU’s conditions Smith told Love News that the BNTU also has concerns. These concerns have to do primarily with contracts and increments.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “Our members have shared similar concerns but there are also other concerns that are specific to us as teachers. In terms of say for example our teachers at ITVET who find themselves in a very funny situation where they are on contract so they are not regulars just like us where you get a job and you go on and on they get a contract about every two years or so and those contracts are almost always automatically renewed. So they have concerns as to how it is that the matter of the suggestion to cut back on contract officers how they will be affected in that sense because they don’t get increments on an annual basis as most persons would should they pass their appraisal. So other concerns that would relate specifically to teachers and our members are that and then the other concerns the general one as it relates to the cost saving measures our members have similar concerns as PSU.”
Both the PSU and the BNTU will be meeting virtually with the Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, and Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight tomorrow morning.