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Nov 22, 2017

C.W.U. on the Move – S.S.B., Stevedores Could Get CBA’s for Christmas

Earlier this year, two bargaining units affiliated with the Christian Workers Union – employees of Social Security Board and stevedores working at the Port of Belize – engaged in high-profile action to draw attention to their labour issues. The former wore t-shirts to work on two successive Fridays in April in support of negotiations for their collective bargaining agreement. Around the same time, the latter threatened to strike if their long-running demands were not met. Since then things have gone somewhat quiet, and that is because, according to C.W.U. General Secretary and Trade Union Congress President Floyd Neal, there is some progress toward inking the outstanding collective bargaining agreements.

 

Floyd Neal

Floyd Neal, General Secretary, Christian Workers’ Union

“I can tell you we are on the homestretch where Social Security Board is concerned; before this year is out, probably before this month is out, we will be signing the collective agreement to cover members at the Social Security Board.  In terms of the stevedores, we have gone back to the negotiating table, we have had some progress, and we are hopeful that if not by the end of the year, then certainly early into the New Year, we’ll be able to conclude a collective agreement there.”

 

Aaron Humes

“That would be an absolute miracle, but we’ll hold you to your word on that one.”

 

Floyd Neal

“That is the hope, there is nothing certain here. But we are back at the negotiating table; we are having these conversations. We won’t agree on everything, but I think we are quite a ways from where we were, when we weren’t talking and we could not agree, we have agreed on certain things and we [have] made progress.  I believe that the majority of the stevedores, we’ve been able to convince them that the approach we are advising them to take will see them better off than they are currently, and I think they are on board with us.”

 

The C.W.U. represents over a dozen bargaining units countrywide; today an agreement was completed for employees of St. Martin’s Credit Union in San Ignacio. S.S.B. employees are asking for a one-point-seven-five percent pay rise and a fair deal on payments for vacation days among other things. In the case of the stevedores whose fight dates back at least two decades, it is to cover a host of labour issues from insurance to benefits.

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