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President of BNTU discusses demands that led to strike

The Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU, one of the biggest and strongest union in Belize, has been known to get the government’s attention.  It was a year ago, today, that the BNTU held a nationwide strike which lasted for 11 days.  The purpose of the strike was to get the Government of Belize to commit to practicing good governance. In this regard, the BNTU outlined 8 demands that they would like to see the government meet.  Those demands included: the Senate Select Committee, the establishment of the Integrity Commission, the appointment of a 13th Senator, signing onto the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC, and the amendment of the Social Security Act. While the government has held up its part of the deal in regards to some of the demands, Senator Smith says the BNTU is still not satisfied.

Elena Smith, BNTU President

“All we know is what we’ve been doing, the inquiry continues. We are aware that UNCAC was signed on to. We are now aware that some persons are in Jamaica doing a tour to see how UNCAC works out there, we know that a consultant came to visit with us at BNTU and asked us many questions but couldn’t give us any answers because he was just a consultant. We are not satisfied. We believe that a year later much should have done and we have attempted to request of the Prime Minister to indicate to us what has transpired during the course of the year and so we wrote to him and he responded to us by saying nothing. He gave us no update on where we are and so we hear certain things. He is the person who had said to us and the media that he doesn’t really watch the news but yet he sent us a letter to say to us that we can get our information from the media and so I am not sure if the Prime Minister is forgetting what he has said or if he’s just being outright disrespectful but I can tell you that as BNTU we are not going to sit by and accept that kind of response. We are going to be responding to him because we believe that the Prime Minister met with us as BNTU, we negotiated these eight demands and we came to an agreement with the Prime Minister it was the Prime Minister and the BNTU and for him to now say to us that we must get our update from the media it makes me wonder if he is aware of what is going on. If he refuses to share with us what is happening, if you were aware that these were our eight demands and out there for eleven days for these things I don’t see any difficult in you providing us with an update, you should be proud to say to us that the government had agreed to these things and this is what we have done so far.”