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Mar 28, 2001

Port workers get money, union still “bex”

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Nearly one hundred union members working at the Port Authority will finally receive salary increments. This morning another round was fought in the long running battle between the Port Authority and representatives of the Christian Workers Union, and while the union claims to have received some low blows, in the end at least some agreement was reached. Ports Commissioner John Watson says that the negotiating parties have come a long way.

John Watson, Ports Commissioner

“What was done today is a major step forward and the signing of the agreement means that the industrial relations here at the port can only improve. We look forward to working with the union and of course all the employees to maintain the…if you like move forward to create better conditions and terms for the employees but all employees.”

James McFoy, President, C.W.U.

“The majority of the union members did not receive the agreed increases and so on. Because of that fact the union had to bend somehow in order to get this thing going and so the workers can get their money which is due to them. So we decided to sign a Memorandum of Understanding this morning and also represented a document from the port, their document, and we signed that in duress and the understanding that all the other amendments will be discussed on the eleventh of April. It is not a happy situation so to speak. We signed documents which we believe could have been avoided and the signing could have been done long before and people got their money long before.”

“They went about telling the workers if you want your money just sign a document saying that you resign a document from the union then you get your money. We view it as a union busting situation.”

Gareth Hemmans, Union Representative

“This union shows a lot of maturity. To be truthful by I think by right we should have taken legal action against management because they produce documents upon the payment of this money with their signatures on it. Like I say, on the union side, it is we who are actually bending on our knees due to the fact that the workers are behind us stating that they want their money, they want their money, so we made this step that we made today. But in the future I think that this union has to get tough.”

Jose Sanchez

“I understand all the issues have not yet been resolved. What will be done? What is the next step?”

John Watson

“It’s true that some amendments have been considered. The next step is that the union present their proposals by the fourth of April, and those will be considered by the negotiating committee of the board. That will followed by a meeting on the eleventh of April between the representatives of the trade union and the trade union executive and the Port Authority and the labor commissioner will be in attendance. We are pleased at the progress made today.”

Jose Sanchez

“So workers will receive payments?”

John Watson

“Today, this afternoon they will have the cheques they will have the cheques in their hands that were prepared for them last week.”

C.W.U. members received a retroactive increase of two percent for the period April to December 2000, and an additional five percent starting from January first 2001. Accusations of union busting arise from the port’s decision to give non-union workers their money a week ago.

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