BNTU President says teachers want their increments now
Teachers are demanding that their increments, which were frozen in 2021, be reinstated post-haste. Senator Elena Smith, President of the Belize National Teachers’ Union explained to Love News on Saturday that this was a matter of urgency because the nation’s educators are having to grapple with the high cost of living – and the fact that they already worked for those increments. Here’s how she explained it.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “Well we should. This was not something that should go on forever and you will understand and you can understand when teachers get upset when they see these things happening and when the Prime Minister says well the teachers got back their 10% so CEOs can get something, failing to say to us that everybody got back the 10%_ including them so they go the ten plus they got these things and where are our teachers. We work very hard. We have done a lot during this pandemic. We continue to do a lot to try and bridge the gap of that two year difference that we’ve had and for us to be at a point where we see everything going up but our increments remain frozen it has made our lives difficult and a lot of our teachers do not have the ability or do not have the resources to be able to sustain the bills that they have, the families and provide for the classroom as well. So these things when we look at the increment and you calculate what you would have lost it is more than the 10%. And so it’s important that that be reinstated and as early as possible. So we are awaiting the meeting with the government side because we have been asking for it for quite some time now. It’s for them now to set that meeting and sit with us so that we can discuss the next steps forward because this has gone too long now. I am hoping that they will give us a date very shortly because as I said we have been behind them. It’s from their end that we have not been able to schedule a meeting and we know that the increment freeze is for set period of time they had said three years. It doesn’t mean that it has to go to three years and so we are hoping it can end very shortly and hopefully for this upcoming fiscal year that it can be reinstated.”
Reporter: The Prime Minister however has argued that increments are not automatic.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “Well it’s not automatic but they took away from everybody. So from the time you took from everybody then you are saying to us that it’s automatic and so we know that there has to be an appraisal and you get that based on your appraisal. So if that is the case then they should have taken from those who would have deserved to get increments those years but they just took away from everybody so right away you are saying to us well it’s automatic everybody must get the cut because everybody will get increment anyway so give it back to everybody because you took from all of us.”