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BNTU President Comments on Budget Consultations

 Union leaders and government negotiators spent over six hours in meeting yesterday afternoon after the two parties had reached a sort of impasse.  While the union leaders have now become tight lipped in terms of how the negotiations are going, the President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) Elena Smith did reach out to the union members to explain that negotiations will continue on Good Friday and throughout the Easter weekend.

Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “We are looking at having another meeting on Good Friday and another meeting again on Easter Monday and so it means for us as your leaders that there will be no Easter Weekend for us as we continue to work on these negotiations. I am unable to at this time provide you with what those discussions today yielded or what it is that we are looking at for the other meetings because we need to have those things in writing from the government officials and so when we do we are able to share those information with you. We have planned for the remainder of this coming week starting tomorrow we do have branch meetings planned where we are going to be updating our members as it relates to the discussions so far. I would like to ask of you our members to understand the negotiations process that we are having right now but not only to understand that but to give us that space, to give us that leeway where as your leaders we can go into these meetings knowing that we have the support of our members, understanding that you our members know that when we go into these meetings and these negotiations that we don’t go there with our personal positions. We go into these meetings based on what it is you the members would have shared with us. I also think that it’s important for us to understand that you can’t just expect that after one meeting we would be able to reach agreements and so I trust that you would be able to grant us that time, give us that time for us to be able to go through the process and then we can get back to you on what it is that these discussion would yield for our members.”

 President Smith further explained to the union membership to practice confidentiality when the details of the negotiations are being shared with them.

 Elena Smith, President, BNTU: “I know that in everything we’re going to – you know people will not trust us and people will be skeptic about what it is that we’re doing and you will hear all kinds of comments out there and all kinds of assertions about us as union members, those are not helping us to be able to go into these negotiations with a calm head and knowing that we have the support of our members and so it is very important that we get that support from you, we get that assistance from you. I want to thank those of you who have joined us. Just to remind you as I’ve said before tomorrow our council of management meets we are going to be giving them an update as to what transpired today and then Tuesday afternoon we meet the Corozal Town and Corozal Rural branches. On Wednesday we are meeting the San Ignacio, Benque, Belmopan branches, Punta Gorda and Toledo Rural and I believe Stann Creek branch as well. And the on Thursday we meet Orange Walk branch and Belize branch Thursday morning. So we are hoping that we would be able to provide those updates to you but not just provide updates because we need to get a mandate from you based on what we have discussed today. So those will come to you when we have those meetings and then we have convention the following week and so after we have those meetings on Good Friday and Easter Monday then we would be able to again give another update on Wednesday hopefully on the first day we can give an update as to what transpired on Good Friday and Easter Monday so that you have that update. So look out for those meetings your branch presidents would be getting the zoom link and I want to ask you that you be responsible as members of our union that when you get that zoom link to attend our meeting as a member that you do not share that link with persons who are not members of the union. It is very critical that we do so. As well when you are in those meetings that you go to a place that is private, that persons who are not members of our union, neighbors, persons passing by, other family members that these persons would not be able to listen to our discussions in our meetings, our meetings are private.”

For now, the issue remains unresolved. We continue to follow this story closely.