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Dec 9, 2015

CWU Still Unable to Meet with Labor Commissioner Amid Impasse

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

The CWU has been having emergency meetings with the executive and the stevedores but the situation remains fluid.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“Decisions aren’t mine alone, so I keep going back and have emergency meetings to consult with the members. It is always important at all time that the key people, the stevedores tell us the direction. If they say they don’t want to strike, the union supports it; if they say they want to strike, that’s what the union will support; if they say they want to negotiate, that’s what the union will support. I am not there to speak for myself, the executives are not there to speak for ourselves; we are there for all the stevedores. So that’s what the purpose of those meetings. Yesterday, we received a letter from the Labor Commissioner asking if we could have a meeting today at nine-thirty; that was not possible. We wrote them and told them that that was not possible. But we gave them an option, we said three-thirty; up to three-thirty, they never confirmed that there will be that meeting. All we had was an email from Mister Vasquez saying but what happened? It should have been nine-thirty. It was clear cut; we are prepared to meet but the same way they give time, we give time and we have to be honest. So unfortunately the Labor Department never got back to us, they never confirmed with us so that meeting has not taken place. We are still prepared to meet. But Labor Department I hope will have an open mind because clearly they have met with Port and heard their side because we had a brief meeting with them yesterday and they already had all their arguments that the Port had issues, which is very unfortunate because they have not heard what really transpired. But we are hoping still that this is being resolved. But we want people to not treat the stevedores with disrespect. Not because they are poor workers you have to not consider their interests. What people don’t know is that some of those that have retired have taken only eight hundred dollars, a thousand dollars retirement under that three percent that was unilaterally instituted by Port in the interim—we’ve never agreed to that. But it is like saying okay unu di go, make we give unu something because we know that is still something pending. Now Port wants to make it seem as though that was always the agreement. There was never that agreement.”

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