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Mar 21, 2014

A 12 hour strike by stevedores over subsistence

Arturo Vasquez

A gang of fifteen stevedores on Wednesday pulled off an unexpected strike at the compound of Port of Belize. The gang was scheduled to unload ninety-five containers from Seaboard Marine vessel. The shift should have lasted approximately twelve hours, but the stevedores refused to work because they were fed pasta salad, barbecue chicken and a dinner roll instead of fried chicken from New Asia Restaurant on Vernon Street. Now, the Port Management provides subsistence for the stevedores every six hours and at twelve midnight, they once again refused the food provided to them. It was not until this morning that the fifteen men had the breakfast provided and began offloading the cargo vessel.  News Five spoke today with C.E.O. of Port of Belize Limited, Arturo “Tux” Vasquez, who says that the agent of the Seaboard Marine vessel threatened to pull the ship because the delay was costing them upwards of fifteen thousand dollars. The Management of Port of Belize is officially treating the action of the stevedores as an illegal strike which will likely lead to serious labor dispute between Port of Belize and the Christian Workers Union, to which the stevedores belong. The situation could deteriorate because Vasquez says that the stevedores will not be paid for those hours for which they did not work.

 

Arturo “Tux” Vasquez, C.E.O., Port of Belize Ltd.

“Surprising enough for me is to find out that the reason was that they wanted a specific meal for that day. I find that a bit strange because the meal that they had gotten…there are people that provide meals for us…there is a variety of meals on any given day and it is not coming from anywhere strange; it is coming from where it usually comes from. I would think that the meal that was served at that time was good enough. Of course, we all have choices, but in this case the meal was already served. But I understand that they insisted that they wanted a particular meal, fry chicken at that time. I didn’t see it quite reasonably from their part to be demanding that so there was no approval for that because the move was already delivered. And they decided to strike; I mean stop completely. And that went on until midnight and the next meal was served, and they also refused that. And then that continued up to the morning until breakfast was served. I understand that they accepted that and they started to work; that’s twelve hours later and that is a very expensive delay especially for Seaboard Marine, for the agents, who at that time were contemplating pulling out after twelve hours; that’s pretty expensive…excess of time; fifteen thousand dollars they could have lost in a case like that—not to mention the time to deliver. This is nothing new, it is something that happens all the time. But at this point to me, they made a demand and up to me…today I am still wondering what is the point of that, especially striking which is illegal. You don’t just stop; you can go slow if you want. But this was stop; so for twelve hours absolutely nothing happened. As far as we know, there is no issues at all between the stevedores and the Port; absolutely nothing—no payments, there is no issues that I am familiar with. The only one I can think about could be the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations that started last year and it came to halt when the union had their problems with removing their president and all that. So now that they have a new president and executive in place, basically we are expecting those negotiations to continue. From our standpoint we are basically waiting for them to regroup their negotiating team to come back to the table.”

 

Duane Moody

“Twelve hours, no work…there must be penalties…”

 

Arturo “Tux” Vasquez

“Well if you don’t work, you can’t get paid. The way the stevedores are paid, they’re paid a regular hour and then they are also paid additionally for every container that they move…so obviously no containers were moved—well the containers were moved anyway, but later on. But as for the time that they are not working, it was an illegal strike, our position would be that you can’t get paid if you don’t work.”

 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “A 12 hour strike by stevedores over subsistence”

  1. Cruz says:

    Are you f@#$!%g kidding me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! you are goin to strike because you were fed pasta salad and bbq chicken instead of fried chicken! that is outrite disgusting!!!! in a time when most belizeans are lucky to eat corned beef and white rice, when most of us live on beans and eggs on a daily basis and beans here in san pedro costs 2.75 a pound, a lime one single lime costs a dollar, those are comodities that are getting harder to afford. Im just saying that most us are going through hard times rite now, and most get to eat things like pasta salad and bbq only on sundays or special occassions like baptisms, com’n man there are alot of belizeans who legitimately and desperately need a job and a stevedor’s position would be a god send for some rite now.I bet my bottom dollar that if you put the farmers from valley of peace who just lost their crops all their hard work just taken away in a blink of an eye! if they were put to work as stevedors they would do the job in half the time and you would only need half the work force to do it and the port would save twice the money and that is garanteed!!!! Every day i see on the news people getting arrested and deported and for what, for working without papers, for trying to earn a living, no man, that is not fair man and at the same time you are going to hold a strike for being fed pasta salad and bbq???Belize will never get ahead with these cruffy people with their hands streched out always wanting more and more, The city’s cruffy mentality is holding all of us back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. concerned says:

    i agree with Cruz 100%!!!!!!!!!

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