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Oct 2, 2018

A Standoff Between Port of Belize and Stevedores Threatens Industrial Action

The Port of Belize Limited is once again at odds with gangs of stevedores working at the harbor, as well as their representative union.  For years, the company has shared an adversarial relationship with waterfront workers, a somewhat confrontational state of affairs which dates back to the presidency of Antonio Gonzales.  Since taking over as receiver in 2012, the existing administration has navigated turbulent waters with dockworkers on several instances, most notably in December 2015 when an impromptu strike was staged by disgruntled laborers.  That industrial action resulted in a new piece of legislation which includes stevedoring as an essential service, also prohibiting dockhands from going on strike without prior notice.  Last Wednesday, things reached a tipping point when a meeting between the management of PBL and representatives of the Christian Workers Union fell apart.  Both parties were engaged in discussions pertaining to a Collective Bargaining Agreement, particularly where it concerns lengthy hours being worked by the stevedores.

 

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde, President, Christian Workers Union

“It’s a matter that came to a head last week Wednesday when we met to continue the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.  The matter of the hours of work.  The Port of Belize has been asking the members, the stevedores, to change how they have been working for time immemorial.  You know, basically what they do is work extended shifts on a particular boat, earn overtime bonuses and that’s how they substantiate their revenues from their livelihood.  The members naturally have a level of trepidation, but we received their proposals, their breakdown in which they make the argument that this is necessary and that it will be minimally adversarial or, you would say, negative to the stevedores.  We took the proposals; we gave a certified accountant the job to look at it, to analyze it, to see if it was something that the stevedores could entertain.  Last week Wednesday, that accountant made his presentation to members of the negotiating teams in which his summary was not a favorable thing for our members.”

 

Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez

Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez, C.E.O., Port of Belize Ltd.

“It goes back to 2012, and as you know, now that we are six years into this, we have actually changed or negotiated with four different presidents for the CWU and that has created quite a bit of waste, loss of time.  It’s not only a loss of time but the continuity as well, because whenever you get involved with a new leadership they are not around to see what you have negotiated before.  So that’s a significant problem for us.  We are now starting with a new president that certainly hasn’t been around to see what we have actually done for the stevedores and what is it that we have accomplished up to this day.  The item that we are now negotiating which we have been negotiating from before is the hours of work.  That is what has us where we are right now and it’s simple, the hours of work based on legal advice we have gotten, and also from the Labor Department, is that currently the stevedores are working outside of the Labor Law.”

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1 Response for “A Standoff Between Port of Belize and Stevedores Threatens Industrial Action”

  1. Fungus says:

    No one giving news about all the home invasions happening in cayo side..the news so lost in belize city that in lest that 1 week 4 burglary already happen and a few persons almost lost their life. Time to lock down cayo..

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