Newly Elected BNTU President Outlines Vision for Union

Newly Elected BNTU President Outlines Vision for Union

Nadia Martin-Caliz appeared on The Morning Show today, speaking on her vision for the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) as the recently elected President.  Martin-Caliz is an educator and has had experiences in the education system, both as a teacher and a leader.  She noted that there are four primary areas that she will be looking to tackle during her presidency including a re-branding of the BNTU.  The rebranding comes at a time when the union is considered more militant in fighting the system which she hopes to change.  

Nadia Caliz, National President, BNTU: “Being a part of the Belize National Teachers Union and a branch president and member of council for over 10 years, I was able to identify the four pillars on which this organization stands. And so my campaign was based on those four pillars, because those are the four areas that we actually try to address. And I have to say try, because there are times when the leadership steps away from these things because there are other pertinent matters that would just come from nowhere and we have to address them. And what I do every day, if you notice I have my little flier, I move around with this. I move around with this because this is the reason why I offered myself to become the next president and this is the reason I strongly believe the membership of the BNTU elected me. And so my platform had to do with job security, improved benefits, institutional strengthening. and the rebranding of the BNTU. Those are the four areas. BNTU is known for our strike actions, demonstration, standing up for our salary increases, our wages. That is basically what we’re known for and we are more than that. And so the rebranding is for the country and even the members to see BNTU for what it really is and what it ought to be. As an organization, apart from standing up for salaries, we also advocate behind closed doors for the improvement of policies and rules and all of that. It is known, but it is not something that people pay much attention to and we need them to pay attention to that.”

One crucial aspect that President Martin-Caliz spoke about was the issue of salaries for teachers, saying that teachers are not as money-hungry as many believe.

Nadia Caliz, National President, BNTU: “When I took over, you know teachers are still clamoring for the suspended increments. Teachers want their increments, they want their increments. And teachers are seen as money hungry, people who like money, everything money, everything money and “they need fi pay attention and mek sure di pickni de learn.” And I took that into Kriol intentionally. There’s a reason why teachers are fixated when it comes to finance. First of all, I want to take a teacher who makes $1700, an, associate’s degree. And you have to, some will say it’s not so but it’s so, take like $300 out of that monthly for your classroom resources. And if you don’t have those classroom resources you are written up. But the rule also says that it’s the responsibility of the administration and the management to provide you with those resources but they tend to not pay attention to that. They pay attention to the fact that these are the requirements and you must meet these requirements. And this is where you have that. Now, I also have to take care of my family. I also have to take care of my bills. I also have to take care of myself if in forwarding my education. So you find that the finance that they make, the monthly salary, is insufficient. And I haven’t even deducted social security or anything from it. It is insufficient and that happens to be one of the main reasons why teachers pay keen attention to their salaries. And I believe that if they remove that burden from teachers they will be a little bit more contented and they will be able to focus more on what they ought to do within the classroom. But financial stress is not a very good stress. And our teachers have been experiencing this and so many of us have been ignoring the fact that they are experiencing financial stress.“

President Martin-Caliz was elected as BNTU’s President on April 4, 2024.

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