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Feb 3, 2020

Stevedores Affected by Drought, Sugar Loading Threatens Livelihoods

The Christian Workers Union also met today in a lengthy session with Minister of State Tracy Panton to discuss issues several that are affecting waterfront workers at the Port of Belize in respect of the sugar industry.  For decades, stevedores have played an integral role in the loading process for cargo ships leaving harbor with sugar for the export market.  Tonight, their livelihoods are being threatened by the effects of last year’s drought, as well as a pending move to commence the trucking of sugar overland to the Big Creek Port in Independence.  C.W.U. President Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde says that in the face of these concerns, A.S.R./B.S.I. has been eerily quiet.

 

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde, President, C.W.U.

“They are very, very concerned about the sugar; two aspects about the sugar.  Of course we understand that the sugar industry has been impacted by the drought.  But before that, there had been rumors about A.S.R. relocating its transshipment point from Port of Belize to Big Creek which would be a significant withdrawal of revenue from stevedores.  It would be like they annually two million dollars comes from sugar.  That‘s not chum change and so they have been asking and have been asking the union to find out what‘s the situation with sugar.  And so we have been doing that from about July of last year, reaching out to ASR to say, “Listen, our members want to know what‘s taking place.  They have been absolutely silent on giving us details as to exactly what their plan is.  So we are waiting from the dark here, we hear rumors, that‘s the most we get.  And so there‘s a level of frustration, there‘s a level of tension that exists with stevedores because of what the implications are.  Add to that now the difficulties in sugar where you have a delayed commencement, uncertainty as to well, if it is going to come through Port of Belize, when exactly does it begin and so absolutely appreciate the fact that Minister Panton, with whom we met and sat down with the prime minister last year to engage them on this issue, was available today to speak directly to the members, to say what is happening.  And so, we are talking here in a nutshell, it’s money, it’s livelihood, it’s job, it’s the ability to pay your bills.  And that is what the stevedores have been asking for and that is the bottom line behind the level of angst, the level of frustration that they feel and I think the fact that A.S.R. has been so inadequate and so terrible at communicating clearly and consistently, I think that that has added a level of emotional edge to it because now you feel that you are being disrespected.”


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