The Belize National Teachers Teachers Union’s (BNTU) hard work and dedication has won them a small victory over the Government of Belize. The Union filed an injunction against GOB as they were trying to stop Government from deducting money out of their November paycheck of 1,500 plus teachers who went on the 11-day strike in October. It was announced yesterday that the BNTU won the injunction.
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled against the Ministry of Education instructing that teachers should receive their full salaries at the end of November. All those teachers who went on strike would have been denied their last salary before Christmas if Government would have had its way.
Eamon Courtenay, attorney for BNTU told 7News:
"The honorable Chief Justice handed down his decision a short while ago in which he granted the Belize National Teachers Union and Miss Guerra the injunction that we sought. He found that we had an arguable case and that there is a real likelihood that we will succeed at trial and he felt that the balance of conveyance was in favor of the teachers, that the teachers should not be denied the enjoyment of their Christmas, because the government has taken the very mean and, I would say decision, to attempt to process the payments and then to come to court and say to court that they can't pay it on time. CJ said that more people will be affected if they don't pay, that the people who have to do the overtime to correct the situation. So the teachers need to be paid and paid on time."
Luke Palacio, President - BNTU
"We were striking for a number of issues, particularly good governance for the country of Belize. Our Belizean people has supported us fully. We explained to the ministry, to the minister, to the prime minister in our letters that we were prepared to make up the time. Those negotiations have taken a long, long time. Our teachers have made great sacrifices. Our teachers continue to make great sacrifices to this nation and when the ministry decided that this is the course of action they intended to take, we had no other choice but to seek legal advice and to come to the courts for a final decision on this matter."
The injunction only forces the Ministry of Education to pay teachers’ salaries in November, however, if the MOE wins the case then the deduction may occur at a later date. The substantive case, on whether or not the Ministry was correct or wrong in attempting to withhold their contributions for payment to teachers, will have its first procedural hearing on December 16.