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Apr 6, 2017

Port Says Stevedores Refuse to Talk About Previous Payments

Arturo Vasquez

While a full document has not been reached and agreed to, various aspects of what will become a Collective Bargaining Agreement have been agreed to between the Christian Workers’ Union and the Port of Belize Limited. But the Port contends that it remains to negotiate far less than is believed, because it has done much more for the stevedores than many know. He gave a few examples and refuted suggestions about the pension being less than deserved.

 

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

“As to the claim of being paid a hundred and something dollars, that evidence would have to be brought to me; and if that is the case, I must remind you that when the Port was privatized, people were paid off, and that is what these guys keep forgetting. They think that it is from the day they were waterfront workers; remember when the Port privatized, stevedores were paid off, so whatever they are looking to collect now is as of that date forward. We keep repeating this to them, but again, I am telling you there are only one or two stevedores who continue to make these unfounded claims, which are bare – they have absolutely no evidence at all.  We have settled many things, we have signed off on many things. I keep repeating that one of the first things I did when I took over receivership – it’s the first thing I did for the stevedores which was never done before – I gave them their back pay for seven years. They have never said anything about that. And they keep getting an increase every year – I hope you’re getting an increase every year, in your job – they get one every single year and it’s guaranteed. I paid them seven years of back payment that nobody else was prepared to pay them; that’s the first thing I did for these stevedores. And that is something that I didn’t have to do – the Port is in receivership, we are strapped for cash; I still decided to do that. They have never been insured in all the time they worked here; I have insured them. One hundred and fifty [stevedores] have now been insured. So a lot has happened financially that has benefited these stevedores.”

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