April 4, 2017
The People’s United Party views with some consternation the recent announcement by Education Minister, Patrick Faber that $1 million will be made available to pay teachers who attended school during BNTU’s 11-day strike in October 2016. It’s the sign of a stubborn, immature and downright dangerous man who refuses to accept that he went up against the teachers and lost.
In a time of deep economic recession, the GOB had to present an austerity budget of over $80 million in new taxes and almost $60 million in spending cuts – including for the Police Department, the Fire Department and the Food Pantry Program. Yet, less than two days after the start of the new financial year, we have our very first supplementary allocation. The truth is, Parliament never approved $1 million for this purpose, and if it is not a supplementary allocation, then it’s revealing that this kind of fat exist in what was supposed to be a lean budget.
We consider this to be a naked case of union busting. It’s a nefarious attempt by the government to divide the teachers. The People’s United Party believes that in the hearts of many of those teachers who did not strike, there was support for the union and its stand against corruption. While we cannot force any teacher to take the principled position of rejecting the proposed honorarium, we do believe it’s a sad day when this government openly tries to divide the teachers. We caution the teachers to never forget that the BNTU makes them stronger both individually and collectively. They must also be mindful that what appears to be attractive now, may well turn out to be a ‘knife in a velvet glove later’.
We’ve seen the UDP government use this same page from the colonial master’s playbook before – this shameless attempt at ‘divide and conquer’. They did it with the Belize Sugarcane Farmers Association when they splintered the 55-year-old association into three different groups, and now the once powerful sugar cane farmers are vulnerable to the whims and desires of the multinational ASR. We have seen them do it to the Mayas and (also to the) we have seen them do the same thing to the citrus farmers. As a people we have to remain ever vigilant against this kind of divisive tactics. What the BNTU and its teachers did in October of last year have and will benefit all teachers, public officers and the nation at large for many decades to come. We remain ever thankful to them for standing up on behalf of all the people of this nation.