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Mar 3, 2020

Stevedores Standing Strong Against P.B.L.

Stevedores entered a second day of protest today. Since Monday they have been outside the Port of Belize on Ceasar Ridge Road protesting the likelihood that locally produced raw sugar will now be shipped through the Big Creek Port. ASR/BSI has conducted a dry run to test the loading of sugar at the Big Creek Port in the south. The millers are looks for a more efficient system.  The Christian Workers Union representing the stevedores says that about one and fifty of its members will be affected. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, reporting

The stevedores are standing strong against the Port of Belize Limited. Their protest entered its second day today and President of the Christian Workers Union, Even Mose Hyde says that the stevedores are staying on course.

 

Evan Mose Hyde, President, CWU

Evan Mose Hyde

“We are not in the business of watching the calendar right now. We are not watching the clock we are just eyes on the things that we want to have resolve and until they are resolve we believe that our members are committed to stay the course.”

 

Some one hundred and fifty stevedores are facing an economic nightmare: the decision for ASR/BSI to have their sugar exported through the Big Creek Pork instead  of through the Port of Belize. It will leave them jobless and affect the income of many more who work at the port. The stevedores, who are members of the CWU, are blaming the Port for not looking after their interest.

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“We have brought our concerns to PBL as our employer for one, failing to properly communicate  or communicate any at all with our members where we are with that and it has forced us to have to go on a while goose chase to find the answer. There is three boats that will come on our way for the 2020 season and we call that the farewell tour for raw sugar. Thereafter they go through Big Creek. We believe that this is result of the negligence and the failure of PBL management to have invested, involved and engaged to that a care it the plight of its work force and what the implications are if they were not investing in the kind of money to keep a company like ASR bringing its sugar through PBL.”

Stevedores have held a presence at the entrance of the Port since Monday. Some have stayed, some have left and returned but their collective presence has remained. They keep hydrated and energized with bananas and papayas. They keep motivated by focusing on the issue in the longer term.

 

Ellis Milton has been a stevedore for decades. He is standing strong with his stevedore brothers.

 

Ellis Milton

Ellis Milton, Stevedore

“We will stay as a long as we could. We are not giving up.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Do you believe that this will have a reaction from Mr. Vasquez in there?”

 

Ellis Milton

“He has to come out and speak to us or something at this time because sometimes he play blind to things.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“You are protesting for two days now, how much money have you lost?”

 

Ellis Milton

“Maybe, I would say probably two thousand, three thousand dollars for the two days already.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“That is a lot of money to give up.”

 

Ellis Milton

“Yes and then we have to sacrifice.”

 

Joining in the sacrifice was Dale Crawford. He is a member of Gang Number two and he has had enough.

 

Dale Crawford, Stevedore

Dale Crawford

“I feel proud that we are standing up as one because at first they chanced us every time. We got tired of it. Enough is enough. Once money is not making. I can’t pay my bills because the landlords are right behind you every day. We don’t work every day. We work every two months and those two months it is rough. It is hard. Sometimes I just want to pick up a gun and kill those ministers but you can’t do it. You just have to wait.”

 

And waiting for years for the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be finalized is the Staff at PBL. Chief Union Representative Wayne Lambey says members of the staff have joined the stevedores today in protest because they too have had enough with the management at PBL.

 

Wayne Lambey

Wayne Lambey, Staff Representative

“We have a CBA from 2002. It is sixteen years old. We are saying that that CBA is stale and nonexistent. We need a new CBA. We are asking the management to cooperate and let us negotiate the CBA. We are asking our employer for over three months for us to negotiate the new CBA. We tried many other alternatives. We email. We text. We even got the Labour Commissioner involved. We got the Minister of Trade involved but nobody seems to hear the cry from this part of the fence.”

 

And CWU President Evan Mose Hyde says that the issue goes beyond the fence. The issues that stevedores are facing are issues for the community.

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“This is the crown jewel of Southside Belize. The five million dollars that the stevedores represent it is the last of this community treasure. So just look at it as stevedores, this becomes now a bigger picture and we want the community to stand up and we want to push back on this empire.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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