During a press conference yesterday, the President of the Belize National Trade Union, Luke Palacio told the media that it is the decision of the management of the schools to decide whether or not teachers who participated in the strike would be receiving their full salary. The teachers were on strike for eleven days which means that there is a possibility that thousands of teachers would not be receiving their full salary. With the latest memo sent out by the Chief Education Officer, Dr. Carol Babb, the leader of the Opposition, John Briceno says that the Government not only has the legal obligation to pay the teachers, but the moral responsibility to do so.
“We are very concerned and dismayed that after having such a long drawn out negotiations with the government that the government now has decided that they are not going to pay the teachers for the period that they were on strike. I think it was in the 2005 strike I think the unions went to court and the chief justice was very clear as I have been told that if they were to take industrial actions that then the government is required to pay their salaries and that is why the teachers did not bring up those issues whilst they were negotiating with the Prime Minister and his officials. We are very concerned that they would not after this long drawn out negotiations and after the teachers had decided in good faith to go back to the classrooms, because many of the issues that were settled were promises are going to take place in the future that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education decided that they are not going to pay the teachers. I think what is even more offensive is that the Ministry of Education instead of sending this memo directly to the unions and also to the different managements they decided to make it public even before the teachers could find out and we believe that that is an act in bad faith. Under the ILO (International Labour Organization) that gives them the right for industrial action and the right that the government also need to pay them that is the understanding that the teachers union has when we spoke with them and that is why when we were in government they went to court and we then decided that it is important that we pay the teachers. Now in this case here we have the teachers standing up not just for themselves it was not only about salaries or the coverage on Social Security but also about these very important governance issues about the issue of the 13th senator, the integrity commission and Public Accounts Committee, these are issues that affect each and every one of us and if they decided that they are going to stand up and do the work that many of us , all of us as citizens should have been demanding I think that the government not only has a legal right under the ILO but also they have a moral obligation to pay the teachers their full salary.”