Minister Faber also addressed the possibility of the Unions strike to be extended to the rest of the week or beyond. Last week he announced that the Ministry has made preparations and that he would sign a Statutory Instrument to adjust the scope under which special licenses could be issued. This is to be able to give replacement teachers the authority to teach. The BNTU has taken this measure as a direct threat, and today the Minister reiterated that it is the course they will take.
Honorable Patrick Faber - Minister of Education
“We have said already what our proposal is, and please understand I heard Mr. Palacio misquoting me yesterday again to say that the minister is saying that it is his ministry that it is responsible to put in place contingency plans in the schools, I have never said that, in fact, I have gone in the record to say that it is the duty under the law, it is the obligation under the law of managing authorities to put in place plans to keep the schools open, what I said is the ministry’s role is to support the managing authorities to make them know that the government is here to support that is why we signed the statutory instrument that would allow in the event of extended strike action and I want to say to people that one or even this second day is not what we considered and that is not just now it is what I said last week; once we get to the point of extended strike action that is when all will understand that the managing authorities supported by the ministry will then move to make sure that there are measures to keep schools open that is the obligation of the managing authority and what I said to be the obligation of the ministry of education is to provide educational services in this country if I didn’t do that my ministry did not act responsibly then there would be another criticism; there are parent out there, there are students out there who are suffering from all of this and if you notice you could go check go to the private schools around the city and you will see that all of them are having schools so in effect it is the poorer children and those children who go to the public schools that are suffering you check any private schools in this country to see if they are on strike so we really need to do what is best for our children and respect the rights of the teachers, I have never tried intentionally to be disrespectful to teachers, I think that those who spin what I say out of proportion or those who misuse my obligation to do certain things to try to make it look that I am against teachers all I want to see is an improved education system and for everybody to play their role.”
Today Cabinet, while stating that they are disappointed that the Belize National Teachers Union blatantly moved the goalposts in deciding to strike, asked for teachers to return to the negotiating table.
The release states that the initial BNTU campaign was first declared to be centered on a good governance agenda as set out in the eight demands contained in their letter to the Prime Minister. However, the formal strike notice sent to the Chief Education Officer dated September 30, 2016, did a switch and listed the 3% salary adjustment and the so-called Proposal 22 as the main reasons for the strike.
In the release Cabinet repeats that the BNTU action is extremely harmful and out of all proportion but states that in the interests of the children, the parents and the country, teachers should suspend the strike; return to the negotiating table regarding the 3%; and respect the process which concluded the last CBA and postponed consideration of Proposal 22.
With teachers extending the industrial action, the Ministry of Education, who signed the Statutory Instrument last Friday which will allow for temporary teachers to be hired to fill in for teachers who are on strike is now on the move. As previously mentioned by Minister of Education Patrick Faber the replacement teachers were to be employed if the industrial action extended beyond 2 days as is the case now.
Keeping to their word today the Ministry of Education sent out a memorandum to all General Managers, Local Managers, District Education Center Managers, Chairperson of Secondary School Board and Principals of Primary and Secondary Schools sighting the procedures that need to be followed to hire a temporary teacher. The Managing Authorities are asked to identify individuals or those individuals can approach the MA’s. The prospects will be asked to complete the Emergency Permit Application Form and submit to MA’s along with the supporting documents including a copy of Social Security Card and a copy of previous teaching license if applicable.
The applications will then be handed over to the Teaching Services Commission Licensing Officer who will verify the documents and information therein and will enter the application into the database. The Licensing Officer will then consult with designated officer to peruse the Magistrate's Court database the Emergency Permits will then be prepared if all is in order and the information will be sent to the Managing Authorities.
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