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May 26, 2016

Port Authority and Christian Workers Union Sign CB

Two collective bargaining agreements were signed today to benefit members of the Christian Workers Union. The Belize Port Authority and the CWU, after five weeks of negotiations, reached agreement in which the forty-eight technical and clerical staffers attached to the five branch offices across the country will be receiving a twelve percent salary adjustment over the life of the four-year contract. The agreement also contains other benefits including an increase in current allowances. According to Port Commissioner Merlene Bailey-Martinez, approximately two hundred thousand dollars will be paid out to the union members.

 

Merlene Bailey-Martinez

Merlene Bailey-Martinez, Port Commissioner

“The main issue was the salary increase that gives the employees an increase of twelve percent over the next four years. But there are some other allowances that were increased and allowances that were introduced for the first time. So those are the main things in the CBA. It took five weeks from start to finish of this negotiation and my opinion is that that is due in part to two things—one that the workers are fully aware and we don’t thing their demands were excessive. We thought that most of it was by and large reasonable. They understand the constraints that we operate under and they were willing to negotiate. On the other hand, the board and management has developed a good relationship with our staff. So we believe that they are aware that we are interested in their welfare. So it was the culmination of a good relationship between the board, management and staff of the workers.”

 

Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“For 2016 it is six percent and for 2017 it is another six percent and that is what brings it to twelve percent, but it is over the lifespan of four years because you won’t get anything else until this CBA expires. And what I like is that there is another important point that must be noted and that’s severance. While the law allows for one week for the first ten years and two weeks after ten years, what the Port has done is after you’ve been there fifteen years, you get three week’s severance and I like that because some of the units are trying to hoodwink our workers and they want us to agree to subsume severance under pension; that is illegal. The law says you are entitled to severance.”

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