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Dec 11, 2015

Normalcy is Finally Resumed at Port of Belize

The Pagola cargo ship from Jamaica has been offloaded and operations are back in full swing at the Port of Belize where days of industrial action taken by the stevedores have come to an end. On Monday, gang seven stevedores headed by Guy Neal started an impromptu strike that was reportedly sanctioned by the Christian Workers Union. But on Thursday afternoon, after hours of negotiations, the stevedores decided to go back to work and to continue negotiating their retirement package with the Port. Today, News Five spoke with the Arturo Vasquez of the Port of Belize, who says that operations are back to normal.

 

Arturo “Tux” Vasquez, C.E.O./Receivership, Port of Belize

“Fortunate enough everything is back to normal. I think after we had the ship on Monday had returned, since then we have not had any of that. We had a delay with the one that started working yesterday, but I believe that it’s everybody’s interest to ensure that that had not departed including the vessel itself. So the vessel was prepared to remain outside English Caye for a while and to give enough time—and I do appreciate that coming from the agents of that ship—to be able to stick around to make sure that they can come in when everything is back to normal because while the sentiment might be that you can get other people to do the work—yes you can—but if you can get it done without duress or any sort of emergency sort of situation because that can also district and have the shipping agents decide not to come. So it is always better not to get to that point, but yes everything is back to normal.  While nothing was signed, I think what was agreed by the teams is that we just continue negotiations as per scheduled which we already had as the fifteenth of December and the twenty-second as our next two days of negotiating.”

 

Arturo “Tux” Vasquez

Duane Moody

“This industrial action for three to four days, could it have been averted?”

 

Arturo “Tux” Vasquez

“My opinion yes, it could have been averted and that’s the reason why my position with the fact that the union and the stevedores have a right to strike—and I will not argue that—they do have a right to strike. The union has said that they do have that right; they’ve also said that they are not an essential service and that is true, but it is questionable—that is something for the government to look at or the Port Authority to look at. But while they have a right to strike, my position has always been with the union and the president of the union is that while you have that right to strike, but in a negotiating situation that cannot be the way to do negotiating. I was asking for them to…if you are prepared to strike, let’s get a notice that you want to strike; give me a day or two. I think it is fair if we are trying to negotiate something. Let’s use an example. I say six percent, you say eight percent. If every time you leave the room, your last thing to me will be so will it be eight or not and then you leave and you strike. I think it is a better situation to say you know what, “we want eight, you want six…I will advice you that within two days, if we can’t have another discussion. It is like leaving the table, thinking about it and coming back again. You need a period of time for that and I think that is fair. To say to me we are not in agreement, we give each other time to think about this, but there is a deadline within two to three days if you haven’t been able to come to a solution—not to come to my eight percent—then I will strike. That’s the period that I am asking for.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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