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Dec 10, 2015

Strike at Port of Belize is Called Off!

A strike is called off and after four days off the job at the port, stevedores finally went back to work this afternoon. Vessels bringing hams and turkeys as well as other items being imported or exported this Christmas season, will be loaded and offloaded. The Pagola from Jamaica which has been moored at English Caye will now be making its way to the port and will be the first vessel to be offloaded. The stevedores went on strike since Monday bringing operations at the Port to a standstill. The stevedores took industrial action because its union was unable to reach agreement with the Port of Belize on their pension plan.  But tonight, the news is that operations resumed as of five o’clock.  Meetings were held during the course of Wednesday night and this morning between the Christian Workers Union’s President Audrey Shepherd Matura and other executives on behalf of the stevedores, the Labour Commissioner and the Port of Belize. This afternoon after four o’clock, Guy Neal of Gang Seven and Matura-Shepherd emerged from the meeting to say that stevedores agreed to return to work. They did not reach an agreement on the retirement package but will continue to negotiate.


Audrey Matura-Shepherd

Audrey Matura-Shepherd, President, CWU

“The main issue was, we had agreed to come back to work on three points. The three points were simply that we’ll come back and work, but the Port has to be willing to go back to the table on the issue of the retirement pension, until we have the actual deed. We don’t want any trickery anymore; we want it in details. The second one was that once they agree to that, the workers would go back and work from this morning. And the third one was that going back to work did not mean that the workers gave up their right to strike at any time, which is a right they have. It was at that point that we were about to sign an agreement last night when Port as usual brings in some new element and they wanted us to agree that if they will strike that the workers have to give them three days notice that they will strike, but that is not required because we’re not essential service; the stevedores aren’t an essential services so that’s where things broke down and we came back this morning. This morning, the position after consulting with the stevedores was that we are still willing to work, but we are not prepared to give you any notice. You’ve not given us anything; you’ve shown no good faith. And so we went through a whole series of discussions again; again the union threw out options of things we can do to be fair. But what was ironic, we went a step further and said make we try compromise a bit and what they came back to us with is that they want us to agree that they could lock out fi we workers and replace them with someone else and we said no, that’s not happening. I don’t think they understand that work for these men is like their whole life; so that will not happen.  The workers could go back to work with only one condition; that we go back to negotiate the retirement benefit until the end. In between that, all normal relations maintain, all their rights remain intact; we’ve not signed away anything. We consulted with the workers and they said they’re prepared to do that. So we heard from them and they said simply okay we’ll take that. Go back to work at five o’clock. We suggested six, but they said at five o’clock and we commit verbally and we will keep our word that come the fifteenth, we will negotiate the pension deed and other days until we have the final product and the final product is that there will be a pension deed or trust deed document. So that’s where we are.”

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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1 Response for “Strike at Port of Belize is Called Off!”

  1. Jake says:

    The sad thing is the only winner here is Audrey Matura-Shepherd, her pay is not interrupted, the WORKERS LOSE 4 DAYS PAY, AND BELIZE LOOKS BAD

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