Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) has issued a release accusing the Government of undermining the trade unions of Belize. Their 5-paragraph release was issued today and has condemned the actions of the Government and expressed great concern at what they have perceived as the Prime Minister attempting to create division within the Belize National Teachers Union. Geovannie Brackett is the President of COLA; he explained to Love News why they have accused the Government of union busting.
“We believe from the very insinuation that the government was willing to dock the teacher’s pay was the beginning of a form of union busting. The very threat that the day’s pay would be cut to us it was a form of union busting. We believe the attempt by the government to do to the union what they have done to the churches and what they’ve done to other areas in society, the sugar industry is an attempt to union bust, to divide and conquer. We stand solid by the teachers for more reasons than one. What the teachers are asking for is what Iwantmycountryback has enlisted as our points; COLA has joined, POORS has joined, even the churches had an expressed concern into the murder of Pastor Lue. In terms of the way the government has come out of that meeting and to respond to the teacher’s’ response from that meeting to me is just divisive and is a spin by the Prime Minister to get the public over on his side. We at COLA will not be brainwashed, we will continue to support the teachers and if industrial action is what it will take for the government to give into these demands, demands that a majority of the society wants, at least I can speak for our membership of COLA the members of Iwantmycountryback and other churches we believe that these are things of any good democratic government should give without any frustration of industrial action.”
Brackett went on to say that the quick pace in which the BNTU is moving is merely because the demands being made are things that should have been done a long time ago.
“First of all Luke Palacio dealt with that issue, I think it was a suffice answer that he gave. I think the fact that they had a large team that went in there that negotiating team is very huge I think the teachers had a game plan from the very get go going in that if they didn’t get what they want or that they had certain measuring sticks to measure what the expect to get. I believe that from the time they came out of that meeting they knew what the response was going to be but they had their mechanism set in place. I can’t fault them for moving quicker than I thought they would have moved, I know sometimes we condemn them for moving too slow but I believe I heard the explanation from Luke Palacio and I don’t have a problem accepting what he said. I believe that their negotiating team is large enough, I believe that they have their mechanism set in place and I trust that what they said and what led them to that letter I believe is justifiable. I think that the things they are asking for and the requests they are making of the government are things that the government shouldn’t even give 50% of they should just see it because these are things that we have been asking for for a long time. Look at the case with Elvin Penner up to today we can’t have the file to prosecute Elvin Penner. The whole system has been delinquent for far too long.”
According to COLA in many cases, justice has not been served and the demands being made by the various sectors of society including COLA have fallen on deaf ears.
“Things that the country has been asking for have taken so long to be given to us. When COLA asked for the removal of the Minister Pablo Marin from the Ministry of Health he was not removed, the Prime Minister went on to say that he has won elections as if though that gives you the right to remain in a Ministry that is delinquent and a ministry that has been performing below standards. We don’t care if you win elections and we don’t care how often you win elections but what we care about is the deliverables and the government has failed in many regards, it has failed in Elvin Penner, Danny Grijalva even though of the destruction that was caused to Nomul he was a standard bearer and we see there is a consistency in choosing political right decisions that is best for the party but that is not best for the interest of the country to continuously happen. So for us at COLA there are so many demands that we have made over the last 8 years that we have seen the government dragging its foot on giving in to our demands. And when they do give in they play this game whereby they give you half of it and they dance around , look at what they have done to the Mayan community, they have dragged them through the ground even when they win they still lose.”
The release reads, in part, quote, “We condemn the personal attacks on the BNTU’s leadership and on the teachers by operatives of the United Democratic Party who refer to them as “illiterate” and “money-hungry.” These campaigns on the educators of our children are cowardly and unwarranted, and reveal to what depths this arrogant government will go to protect Ministers accused of corruption. COLA expresses, as it has from the very beginning, its support for our teachers and the planned industrial action, if that is what it takes to force GOB to adapt anti-corruption measures. Belizeans are fed up of this administration’s reluctance to fight corruption even when it is documented in black and white.”