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Oct 1, 2015

Where Does Insurance for Stevedores Rank Among PBL’s Priorities?

Arturo Vasquez

As we understand, the journey to a successful CBA starts with an expedited agreement to a framework. And compromise on a framework will hinge on various issues including insurance for the workers – something which is very high on the stevedore’s list of priorities, but maybe not quite as high on the Port of Belize’s items to address list.

 

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

“Since 2012, when we took over the Port, we have been in negotiations with the Christian Workers Union; that’s the entity we are negotiating with. And during that negotiation we have been able to establish four agreements that we have signed off on….which is…we have provided back-pay to the stevedores for the last seven years that they hadn’t gotten. We have now insured them, a hundred and fifty of them; they are insured for accident on and off the job. We have established a pension age and a health and safety. So there are four things that during the negotiation we have agreed to and implemented. So to be honest, we have done quite a bit with the previous leadership of the Christian Workers Union. We had a delay after the change of the leadership; Miss Matura is now in the position and I think that to answer your question, the two main things that remain that I think could be a little difficult to agree on—which shouldn’t because in one case it is law—it’s the working hours and the gang sizes. Those are two of the things that I believe are the two most important left to finish with the negotiations.”

 

Mike Rudon

“One thing which came up at the press conference this morning was insurance. The stevedores are saying they want full coverage insurance from home to work and work to home. Do you see that as being maybe a sticking point to the negotiations?”

 

Arturo Vasquez

“Well they are insured. And like with any insurance, you CAM always improve the insurance. So far I would want to suggest to the stevedores that first of all we move from zero to being insured. They are insured right now accident on the job and off the job; meaning that if you are on your way to work they are covered under accident. However, when we get into these negotiations, I would want to think that improving the insurance would not necessarily have to be negotiated. That is something that you see what the insurance company has to offer in addition and then you can improve on what you have.  It is a sixty-forty payment right now so both sides would have to decide because as you know, if you increase the insurance, you are increasing premiums. So I don’t think it should form a part of the negotiation; it is something that can be worked on. You are insured.”

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