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Dec 9, 2015

PBL versus CWU; the Deadlock Continues

At news time, striking stevedores are still camping out at the Port of Belize where they have been since one o’clock this afternoon. But all is quiet despite reports that a group of men would be engaged to unload and upload ships with imports and exports at this busy time of the year. It is known that the cargo vessel, Pagola sailing from Jamaica, is on its way to the port and is somewhere in the area of English Channel, but it is not known when it will arrive. The Christian Workers Union and stevedores were unable to meet with the Labor Commissioner so they camped out at the port. Their impromptu strike started on Monday causing a ship with turkey, ham, construction material, and paint to sail back to Miami, Florida.  On Tuesday night, stevedores attached to gang number one were informed to assemble at the port for the offloading of a cargo vessel at one p.m. today. But two hours before that time, around eleven this morning, the directives were cancelled until further notice. The situation is fraught with ramifications because there are huge economic losses and consequences to the business community as well as to the jobs of the stevedores. The president of the Christian Workers Union, Audrey Shepherd Matura, told News Five earlier today that the stevedores are concerned about their pensions. 


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“We had a meeting with them and stevedores were prepared to come work, but this morning at fifteen minute to eleven o’clock, we got a notice of cancelation and we gave you a copy of that; that Port has canceled that vessel until further notice. But the stevedores under our regulations still came out and they stayed out here because the notice wasn’t canceled before the one p.m. time…I mean three hours before the one p.m. time they still get paid. So they came out here and the others came out here in support. Where we are at this point is that we are currently at an impasse, I would say. The stevedores will not go back to work because there is no vessel to work. But not only that, the stevedores still are demanding that what we had agreed to in relation to the retirement be honored and that there is nothing new to negotiate going backward, only forward…meaning, based on what we already agreed to in the matter of retirement. If the Port wants to give more, fine we’ll take more, but we will not take less. We don’t know why they canceled. We know we got the notice yesterday and as is usual, we informed the guys and then we got the cancelation today. I know it is sort of games that they are playing because this is what they do and I think this is part of the problem that we don’t have that trust and years of dishonesty that the stevedores had to deal with has now forced me to be on alert.”

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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