Minister Faber also commented on the discussions between Prime Minister Dean Barrow and the BNTU which ended in a stalemate. Faber repeated what has become a mantra of the Government, that he doesn’t see any reason why the Union is taking industrial action, since there is no labour dispute.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“According to the Education Act and the accompanying rules and the amended rules industrial action is warranted when there is a properly constituted labour dispute, all is now aware that in fact the 3% increment that the Prime Minister proposed for deferral is not on the table and I need to make that clear, in those Thursday’s meetings with the Prime Minister the meeting that lasted for four hours when it was that the Prime Minister tried to raise the issue of the 3% deferral the Unions representatives said NO we don’t want to talk about that, that is an issue for another meeting, that is an issue with the other two Unions and they made it clear, you’ve seen their flyer it is not about the three it is about the country that the eight demands is what they are striking for so the closest you could have gotten to a labour dispute was for that 3% that was brought in so as far as we are concern this strike does not properly constitutes a reason under our rules for the teachers Union to be striking.”
“Sir, but there is in fact the OSH Bill and then there is the matter with the Social Security benefits?”
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education
“Well, then that point should be made in fact, I will tell you though that the and maybe we need to get into some of the details for clarity; when the three Unions met with the Prime Minister to communicate to him that the response so to speak for the request from the PM for the 3% deferral, it was communicated that two of the Unions approved and one did not, the Prime Minister tried to negotiate and the negotiation pinned and in these negotiations was the Social Security carrying to and from work, Mr. Palacio and the BNTU indicated to the Prime Minister that they would go back to the membership and consult and then come back to the PM and give an answer to that proposal as part of the negotiation as part of the other two Unions, that has not been done and so we have to be concerned when the Unions is now purporting that the Prime Minister lies and that the Prime Minister said that the 3% is off the table because two out of three said that they are not at that point, the Unions have not yet return in fact the Prime Minister wrote yesterday to the three Unions to say I am waiting for you to return with your answer on that and that is the basis upon which Mr. Palacio and the BNTU folks in the Thursdays meeting for our meeting with the Prime Minister said that is not on the table and by extension because the Social Security issue was the negotiating pin that could not be a reason either for them this is something that we can strike and there is some kind of labour dispute.”
OW BNTU President Otilio Munoz and Auditor Cecilia Lazaro have a different version of how the negotiations between the PM and the BNTU went. Munoz said that in those negotiations, the PM has attempted to twist issues against them.
Otilio Munoz, OW BNTU President
“In the national issue he still brought back again a point in the meeting about the deferral, he was proposing that, there is an issue that we have been fighting for many years ago, that is the coverage of Social Security to and from work and he said well ok if you want I will find out what will be needed for me to give you that which will not benefit BNTU teachers but all the workers of this country so he said well ok at the end of a meeting that they had, he communicated to the Union representatives that ok it is just and SI that he needs to put and so the National President said to us at the council well you know that the Prime Minister said that it is only an SI that is needed but once we accept the deferral so this is something that we ned to be very careful and I always believe that you always need to talk with the truth because it is very important that you talk with the truth you don’t mislead people and I think you gain the respect of the people when you talk with the truth and he said well ok we can do that but at the same time as a responsible organization we sit down and we said no because if you can with the strike of a pen you can make changes that years ago we are fighting this case now all of a sudden it can happen so we thought if we accept it is like we approve corruption because we are accepting that at the stroke of a pen things can happen and plus this is not an issue under the national issue it is under the joint Union negotiation team so it is two separate things.”
“The Prime Minister wanted to change the negotiations to ok if we take the Social Security act and that is within these eight pointers can you see where he wants to entangle it and so that is the problem and so I want to highlight that NO we can’t do that because then we are back stabbing the negotiations with the other three Unions, you see we were very smart, it wasn’t the three Unions meeting it was only BNTU, this is BNTU stands at that time but now we are having our social partners so we couldn’t bring that negotiation on the table but the Prime Minister wanted to bring it on the table to negotiate here no to the deferral but take something from here so that needs to be clear.”
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