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Jun 24, 2011

Potential threat of strike at Port of Belize

Antonio Gonzalez

This morning there was a potential threat of strike at Port of Belize.  The stevedores, under the stewardship of the Christian Workers Union, have been at an impasse with the management of the port over a wide range of issues; from work schedules to wages. The Port of Belize issued a release Thursday night, speaking against what they believed was a definite strike, but no industrial action was taken this morning. But according to Antonio Gonzalez, the President of the Christian Workers Union, the release shows how deep tensions are at the port.

Antonio Gonzalez, President, Christian Workers Union

“We issued a letter to Port Management of Belize yesterday detailing our concerns with two issues and referring to a memorandum of understanding that was signed between both parties—binding both parties and calling for the management to abide by the terms and condition of that memorandum of understanding. We cannot understand the display of I don’t know how to term it, but to say that the CWU, the Christian Workers Union, won’t abide by labor laws is very, very untrue. Not only that, but in addition to that in their press release they mentioned about and I wish to quote that the primary “concern is that the threat of industrial action promised by the Christian Workers Union in the letter issued today by the union.” Our action tomorrow in no way represents any outright industrial action, but to emphasize our dissatisfaction and disagreement in Ports decision to unilaterally change the composition of gangs and advanced and scheduled payments. So, it is noted in our letter. This is a sign of solidarity with our workers; sign of solidarity with the gang that was going to work this morning. It didn’t happen so we have to reschedule it whenever the gang is to work. But in no way we had intention to strike at Port of Belize limited—in no way at all. What we are saying in our document is that we are calling on the management of the Port of Belize to immediately revert and reinstate the normal and customary procedures and arrangement on the following issue. One: the composition of gangs with two substitutes as before. Two: advance payments and payment schedules for containers, break bulks, cement, wheat, fertilizers, sugar and other bulk vessels worked at the PBL pier to be paid as before. What we are saying and as I said; I don’t know what they are saying that CWU does not abide by the labor laws. What we are saying is that the management of Port of Belize does not abide by the document they signed.”

Jose Sanchez

“Will there be a go slow or any sort of industrial action in the future being that things are heightened between both parties?”

Antonio Gonzalez

“There’s not very good industrial relationship between CWU and PBL. Although we are as a responsible union we are trying our best to cement a good relationship. At this stage, we cannot comment on what further actions will be taken by the union and our stevedores. What we are saying in our letter, we have requested an urgent meeting to discuss these issues.”

No one from the Port was available for comment on when the next proposed meeting with the CWU will be held.

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7 Responses for “Potential threat of strike at Port of Belize”

  1. Wendy Chiarelli says:

    It is the right and duty of the port management to move the work force to wherever it is needed at any particular time, making changes as necessary. This country is in a terrible economic mess and cannot afford any strike and government should consider legislation to control industrial actions such as introducing secret ballots and minimum 55% total members voting for a strike for it to be legally accepted.

  2. EMS says:

    Will the PM nationalized the port? What else is new Belize? Leadership crisis in the land!!!

  3. belizeanabroad says:

    It is getting ridiculous with everyone feeling like legislation is the way to go to control and address every sitution that pops up. People have no clue as to what they are suggesting – we can hardly implement traffic laws and yet there are those asking for legislation on even more complex matters. What we need are visionary leaders who don’t hold ‘sissy’ grudges and who are intent on doing more for the country than for a handful of special interest party supporters. That is what is needed not more legislation!

  4. Jeebo says:

    Port workers want to strike???? You guys are funny. You are some of the laziest people I have ever seen. It takes 7.5 hours to open a container and remove the first item from it. I know because I was there for 7.5 hours while up to 5 of of you were standing there doing less than nothing. Then you took it up a notch when you asked for a tip for helping me load the piece after your sleeping forklift operator ripped the fender off my trailer. Please strike – service will remain as it it was before during your strike.

  5. yagalove says:

    Jeebo you are so right. They want to get paid for doing nothing and the their union supports this. How backward thinking they are. These are hard times and companies have to make hard decisions to ensure longevity. Unions needs to work with manangement and not try to strong arm like they have done in the past.

  6. humberto says:

    go tio go tio fight for the working people in belize , love you uncle

  7. Sasha says:

    Everyone might have there owns view on this issue, but people will continue to loose the little that they have to provide a meal in there home. I have a brother who help unload these containers and he has kids to feed. Belizean need to start standing up and support each other. The people is what makes the diffrence and not every one is lazy so if you are going to leave a negative comment then dont.

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