On October 3rd, the Belize National Teacher’s Union held a special ceremony in Belize City to commemorate their “Save Belize” campaign, which was marked by an 11-day protest to advocate for good governance reforms.
Union President Elena Smith indicated that as part of the anniversary she had written the Prime Minister, requesting an update to the reform measures that had been accepted by the Government for implementation. The Prime Minister’s response came with a degree of unwelcome indifference, according to Smith.
Elena Smith, BNTU National President
“That letter was sent asking for the update and he has responded as you’ve heard in other words saying to us that we must get our responses from the media because the media has the answers, the same Prime Minister who have said to the media that he doesn’t really pay attention to the news is telling us that we must get our information or update rom the media and so the council has decided that we must send him another letter, we must respond with another letter which we know we shouldn’t and he wanted specifics and so now we are going to be sending him a letter with specifics exactly what it is that we want to get from him, am sure that he will not like what will be in the letter but that is what happens when you try to be smart.”
As signalled by Smith, the Union’s response to the Prime Minister contains its own degree of rebuke. In the letter, Smith declares [quote] “it is rather unfortunate that as the Prime Minister of this country, the person with whom the BNTU negotiated its 8 demands, just one year ago, you see the need to respond to us in such a disrespectful manner” [end quote].
Smith then repeats the request for a comprehensive progress update, in her letter, and adds that the Union expects one in four days on October 20th.
But that is not the only point of contention between the Union and the PM.
Apparently in his letter of response, the Prime Minister had indicated that he is willing to meet with the BNTU along with representatives of the Public Service Union, the Association of Public Service Senior Managers and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize. But Smith wants undivided attention to the issues raised by the BNTU and tells the PM in her letter that they view the suggestion as an attempt to [quote] “divide and conquer, and one we will not countenance” [end quote].