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Oct 1, 2015

Divergent Views on Validity of MOUs

Arturo Vasquez

The four MOUs signed by the CWU of old and the Port of Belize Limited may well turn out to be a significant obstacle on the road to CBA settlement. Both Vasquez and Matura-Shepherd have very different thoughts on the validity of those MOUs which should make the meeting next week very interesting.

 

Arturo Vasquez, Receiver C.E.O., Port of Belize Limited

“If I had my way, I would basically say let’s continue from where we left off. We have changed leadership in the union, but we haven’t really changed the entity. And I would think that what has been in place—all the frameworks and the MOUs that we have signed—is proof of progression that we have made. We could perhaps continue from there. And if there is any small legal entity that we need to correct to what we already have, let’s do that, but not start a whole new one all over again. So I am afraid that that may be a little of a delay, but hopefully next week, if we can agree on that framework, we should be able to deal with this within a couple months. I think that those MOUs that have been signed should be a binding agreement between the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize because both entities did negotiate and have agreed to those MOUs. MOU for example…where that MOU says that the stevedores are insured. If we ignore that MOU, what happens to the insurance policy? That MOU also says that we will pay you for seven years back-pay and we will do an increase every year. Those are things that have been agreed to, signed on, implemented, [and] paid. So how could we not continue from that MOU? In other words, I don’t think that we should be discussing insurance to say getting them insured. You understand? That has been negotiated and agreed on; what we can do is we can improve on the insurance. But the improvement of that insurance should not be a part of a negotiation. So I am hoping that if we can agree on this framework, the framework then keeps the MOUs that we have signed before in place. And we have to keep them in place because there are things that have been implemented. The stevedores are now insured; the stevedores are being back-paid…there are conditions where they should get increases every year. So those are the MOUs that exist. So I don’t know how we can move ahead and say that never happened. And that’s all I’m saying; that I think that we need to keep these MOUs and move from there onward.”

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