Screen_Shot_2014-01-10_at_8.20.28_PMPart one of a series of public rallies spearheaded by the Belize National Teacher’s Union across municipalities in Belize, saw teachers take to the streets of Orange Walk and Corozal Districts today.  They were out in full force under the banner theme “teechaz got yu back”.

 

Reporter Maria Novelo in collaboration with our Corozal correspondent, Victor Castillo filed the following report.


Maria Novelo – Reporting


United as one, the chants and shouts of over 400 teachers were heard and felt thru the principal streets of Orange Walk and Corozal municipalities. These actions are, hopefully, a transformation of public consciousness that will lead to a compromise between the teachers union and the Government of Belize.


OTILIO MUNOZ – President, BNTU, OW


“You can see the big numbers of all the teachers here and I am very happy and so glad that the message is being sent this morning and am very happy an no words to express how I feel at this moment with Orange Walk, they never left me bad and we are sending that message to the government and saying we mean business and we need that word to compromise, compromise with us and that is what we want, we are demanding that from them today.”


Following its call for public school teachers in Belize to strike for a fairer contract, as a collective union, the teachers are demanding for a salary adjustment.


Luke Palacio- National President - BNTU


“We call it a salary adjustment because all of us know that the value, the purchasing power of our dollar has declined so all what we are asking for is to bring back that dollar as much as you could to its original value so that we can have more purchasing power.  So we are not asking for a salary increase, if the dollars was still a dollar and we ask for an increase to that then we are talking about a salary increase, this is a salary adjustment you know it only too well, you as parents, you as housewives, you as farmers, know that when you go to the store what you could have purchased in 2005, the last time we got a salary adjustment, your purchase power is only half of that amount and we are going to fight that our salary be adjusted because we contribute to the development of this country.”


LEON PALACIO – President, Belize Progressive Teachers Union


“We want what we deserve and as well we are fighting for the same cause as everybody else, a small Union but we want the same thing and we stand for teachers generally.”


Maria Novelo – Reporter


“You think that the government will budge after this or will they be moved or impacted by these demonstrations?”

 

LEON PALACIO – President, Belize Progressive Teachers Union


“Well, there is a saying like this; the workers are much more powerful, if they decide today that they will put their hands in their pockets and do nothing else the worlds would come to a stop, hence the government has to listen if they don’t do that they will recognize the power that we initially have within us and they wouldn’t want to reach at that level, nothing violent but people when they stand up and get enough it is a very hard thing to deal with.”


The movement also had the full-fledged support of retired educators.


 

LOURDES SALDIVAR – Retired Teacher


“I have been a teachers for twenty odd years and I know what it is to be a teacher but not only that I am a citizen of Orange Walk and a Belizean and I know what it is to live day to day to help students, sometimes nobody knows other than the student how you are helping them and I can’t stop being a teacher but apart from that I see the other things that are happening and I believe that the leadership in this country and the leaders and in many places, people in authority have a lot to do with what is happening.”


ARCADIA CARRILLO – Retired teacher


“I think it is the people and the people who have come to realize that they need to be united and they need to be solid, they need to now to follow leaders who are not scared who know what they are doing and carry all of us along.  I can tell you from experience that teachers take out money of their pockets to help children, we pay children fees, we pay children books, we pay a lot of things because parents cannot and that is the reason why parent should support the teachers in the teachers Union movement.”


The movement saw the participation of other entities that are grappling with parallel situations; the people have simply had enough and while the fear is being washed away, people are waking up and fighting for their rights.

 

FRED ORTEGA – Rally Supporter


“That is something in similarity that we are looking forward and I think that their fight is not only for salary adjustment but I think that there are other national issue that they have mentioned also and I think that it affects all of us, them and us the cane farmers and I think it affects the nation of Belize and I think that it is time for us to stand up and really look forward to have a better country to have a better standard of living and to have a more secure place where we can live.”


SALDIVAR


“If you look around the filthy in our country, the roads you know, the hardship that people are going through it all stems from somewhere and it has to stop but it takes people like you and I to stop it.”


In Corozal over 200 teachers took part in the movement which was organized under the theme “Teechaz got yu back”.  Maria Novelo for CTV3 News!


The next rally will be held next week Friday. It will be held by the BNTU Belize Branch only.

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