Nadia Martin-Caliz Elected President of Belize National Teachers’ Union

Nadia Martin-Caliz Elected President of Belize National Teachers’ Union

Nadia Martin-Caliz was elected this evening as the new president of the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU).  The initial reports of her victory came in at a quarter to six this evening as the counting of ballots had just concluded.  The elections were held today as part of the union’s 2-day convention, and saw two career educators, Nadia Martin-Caliz and Ifasina Efunyemi, going head to head for the position. IT is to be noted that the presidency is the only seat being elected since Ruth Shoman-Guerra had resigned shortly after being elected last year.  Instead of holding a bi-election at that time, Jorge Mejia, the union’s First Vice President was holding over.  As the union members were casting votes this afternoon, our newsroom spoke to both candidates about their expectations. We begin with comments from Martin-Caliz. 

Nadia Martin-Caliz, BNTU President: “I’ve been paying attention to the direction our union has been taking and that is not the BNTU that I joined. And I believe that those of us who are stalwarts, who understand what BNTU represents to this country we needed to come back and put us back on the platform where we were and being a member for thirty years and serving as rep, school rep, branch president, member of council, being in the forefront for many demonstrations hey I have the experience. And I said let me come forward and offer myself and see if they will accept me as their president. So I’m waiting to see the results and if that’s it then we’re ready. I strongly believe that I got the support of the majority because like I said I’ve been doing this for thirty years. But connecting with voters was important. My question to them “Please tell me what is it you want to see differently within the BNTU.” and so I used that as my platform because if you’re representing the voters then you’ll get their support and so that what you saw here today I strongly believe they’re here because my platform represented their concern. I’m looking at job security, I’m looking at  better benefits, I’m also looking at what we refer to as institutional strengthening and an improved BNTU brand because I’m quite certain if you hear certain things about our union they’re not things you like to hear and I don’t like to hear it. So we have to come back to what we were and better, that is key. Now underneath institutional strengthening it’s not just about the teachers themselves but the institution called BNTU we have to look at it. A union is continuum, new members come old ones leave. What do we need to do ? We have to hear their concerns. We have to address those concerns. It just can’t be about the old methodologies and ideas and concepts we have to merge them, that is the only way we can survive over time.”

This is not the first attempt at the presidency that Efunymeni has made.  Last year she vied against Ruth Guerra-Shoman, but she was unsuccessful.  In speaking with Love News this afternoon, Efunyemi was hopeful that she would have been given a chance to lead the union.

Ifasina Efunyemi, Teacher: “Well my expectation is that they members will chose the best candidate. I have done all that I can and I want to do more but it is up to them to give me that opportunity. I feel very confident. There are members that came and said they would support me but we will know that when we count the ballots right now.”

Reporter: What is your vision for BNTU ? 

Ifasina Efunyemi, Teacher: “My vision is to see this mighty green machine continue to thrive indeed like the theme says and that’s what I offer to the members. So whether I’m the president or not doesn’t change what I will continue to do for my union.”

This year marks the 54th convention for the labour union with its venue as the Civic Center in the City of Belmopan.  The union’s agenda for yesterday and a portion of today had to do with internal matters, while the election was held in the afternoon

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