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Apr 6, 2017

What Happened Aboard B.S.I.’s Sugar Barge Involving Raymond Rivers?

The Port of Belize Limited has been informed that stevedores are asking for a resumption of negotiations on their Collective Bargaining Agreement in advance of a potential strike at the end of April if their demands are not met. It has responded by calling stevedores to a meeting along with the Christian Workers’ Union on Friday, April seventh. But earlier this week, on Tuesday night, tension aboard the Katy Hill sugar barge vessel led Police to be called in when reports were received of threats being exchanged between members of the two gangs working the ship. We spoke to C.E.O. and receiver for the Port of Belize, Arturo Vasquez, for details on Wednesday. He also explained why the internal situation with the stevedores may affect the Port’s greater responsibilities.

 

Arturo Vasquez

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

“The production has not been where it should be and it is very obvious that that gang has been performing below the required production levels that we need. Gang Seven is the other gang that is working on the ship, and of course, Gang Seven is not on any go-slow, so they are basically producing what they need to produce. Last night, the issue, I understand, is that threats were made by certain members – I believe it is Gang Six – that threat got to a level where B.S.I. called off the operations last night. B.S.I. has a right to do that; it is their vessel, hence why the ship was canceled last night. I understand the threats got to a point where individual members of Gang Seven, I understand, even made reports to the Police as to the level of threats that they had. So that’s something separate from us, that was a direct complaint that was made to the Police, in relation to those threats. I understand the Police were also vigilant and aware as to when the gang came back so that nothing physical that had happened.  When those things are happening on a ship that’s out there, it also can take the security level to a different level, to the I.S.P.S. level which is the international standards of maritime, where that vessel is under threat as well when you have that. So these security levels could go beyond these concerns – it could become an international event, meaning that that ship could then determine that it is best for them not to be [here] – the security levels can be escalated depending on the captain of those boats.”

 

The workers’ pay, which they had complained about, went in on Wednesday during the time of the interview.  We understand that Stevedore Raymond Rivers was trying to raise support for a go-slow and potentially more serious industrial action, but so far things seem to have gone quiet.  B.S.I., Vasquez told us, will make all decisions on its relationship with the gangs and is inclined to offer bonuses to those who will work with them. 

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