The Ministry of Education and the Belize National Teachers Union have yet to reach a compromise regarding the 11day strike carried out by thousands of teachers countrywide. The Ministry decided to not pay those teachers who participated in the strike. The BNTU took the matter to court and the Chief Justice ordered that both parties go into mediation with the hopes that the matter be resolved outside the court. To date, a mediation session has not happened. Attorney for the BNTU, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, gave us an update.
Eamon Courtenay – Senior Counsel
“We are in consultation, finding an appropriate date with the mediator so that we can have the meeting and we have more than enough time to have that matter resolved, if it is resolvable. The point of the matter is the government needs to take what I would describe as a more enlightened approach. I mean you can see that the union has the support not only of the teachers but also of the people. The parents kept their children away to signal to the government that their high handed arrogant approach to this matter is not what the people are supporting. My hope and expectation is that we can have a reasonable discussion, we can find a way forward. Mr. Palacio and his union have always said that they are ready and willing and they are going to make up the time it’s just a matter of sitting down and discussing it, there is no reason why that can’t be done similarly there is no reason why the question of whether or not they are to be paid can’t be resolved. It seems to me as I had said that we need reason to prevail, there is a reasonable approach there is a solution that is available if we all just step back and make the mediation work.
If both parties do not come to a compromise by February 4, the case will proceed before the Chief Justice.