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May 26, 2016

Port Authority Chair Says Signing New Agreement is Historic

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

According to Chairlady of the Belize Port Authority, Ruth Staine Dawson, the signing is a historic experience because the agreement was concluded in a relative short time and there is mutual respect between union and management of the Port Authority. It’s been seven years since the last CBA was signed in 2009.

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“Indeed it has been one of the shortest negotiations, but we have to put things into perspective. It took seven years to start over. Of course Port had new management and so did CWU. Our union members had told us previously that one of the setbacks was that there was a lot of union busting before and CWU had its own uproars and so we couldn’t get to the table. But moving beyond that point, last year the workers, I must give them full congratulations on their effort. They actually came together, wrote and reviewed this CBA on their own. We only had to vet it at the headquarters, approve it and they went into full negotiations with it. And so it was one of the speediest, most civil and professional negotiations that we’ve been involved in and it only took a period of five weeks and they met once a week every week. And what we found help and we hope all units will see it like that. We sent our CBA, they reviewed it…so it wasn’t any surprise. This is what we would like, they respond these are the areas we agree and these are the ones we don’t agree and then we negotiate on the ones we don’t agree.”

 

Edmond Staine

Edmond Staine, Chief CWU Rep., Belize Port Authority

“In October last year, they came up with three points that they saw important for them to have as benefits as employees at Belize Port Authority. We put a proposal to management to say that we wanted a pension scheme, of course; a salary increase and we wanted insurances for all the people that go out to sea. While the insurance up to now is difficult because of the coverage, we must say that it was a very good process starting from then until now. I can say on behalf of the membership that they are very appreciative of the mode that the management took this CWU CBA with. They actually came inviting and very giving to us, more so than what we asked for.”

 

The Belize Port Authority is a statutory body that regulates maritime processes where officers are responsible for hydrographic charts, the inspection of vessels for the issuance of licenses and boat operator permits. 

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