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Mar 4, 2020

Tensions Rise at Stevedores’ Protest

Tensions built up at the Port of Belize today and police had to be called in to cool down the situation. The protesting stevedores grew agitated and blocked heavy equipment from proceeding into the compound on Caesar Ridge Road. The Port’s management has asked to see their demands prior to a meeting with the Labour Department. Still yet, because stevedoring is an essential service so the protest is considered to be illegal. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Things got heated today at the Port of Belize Limited in Belize City as stevedores continued their protest for the third day. Stevedores, who are members of the Christian Workers Union, furthered their actions against the Port’s management by increasing their presence at the entrance of the Port’s compound. The stevedores’ frustration grew when they realized that the Port’s management had reportedly contract substitutes to off load a ship filled with containers and called truckers to move the goods.

 

Stevedore

Stevedore

“Meanwhile the less of us were out here, Mr Tux arranged for somebody to go to the pier head to work the ship but fortunately that we had Mr. Lopez that has all the semis and the big rigs and Mr Vega, they are with us and the lined off and blocked off the port. Our problem is the pier head. Anything that they work at the low birth, no problem. But pier head is our problem. That is where our cabbage leave comes from. We are not blocking any entrance. We are making just that no heavy lift come in to move nothing. Anybody else who have their small things to deal with we will let them in and out freely. No heavy equipment will move nothing. No heavy equipment. No heavy equipment. Vehicles come in to do their business. We are not stopping the business people. But no heavy equipment.”

 

Under the command of Inspector Aaron Gamboa members of the Special Patrol Unit arrived at the scene. Inspector Gamboa spoke to CWU president Evan Mose Hyde to maintain order in the area.

 

Evan Mose Hyde

Evan Mose Hyde, President, C.W.U.

“We are not trying to be disruptive. We are just trying to ensure that we are not undermined. We have no problems with the trucks going into the compound. We said that to the officers immediately. At every opportunity we have said to the officers we have no intention of going in to the property. No have no intention of going into the offices. We have no intention of destroying anything. We have every commitment, full hundred, we are not going to be undermined by any crane equipment or any attempt to have contained come off that ship without stevedores. What the truckers did prevented this situation from becoming absolute chaos and mayhem. What they did was essentially preserved the possibility of us working around a table to make this happen around a table rather than just deteriorate into full conflict. We are not going to surrender and be undermined here at the port and have the stance that we have taken undermined by any efforts to break us by bringing in any equipment that will substitute the stevedores. That will not accept and if that is attempted we will not participate in that meeting. Once that is clear we are going in that meeting and we are going in that meeting with good faith.”

 

Police Commissioner Chester Williams made an appearance, first speaking with Hyde and then entering the port’s compound to speak with CEO Arturo Tux Vasquez.

 

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police“I have discussed with the CEO the issue of the moving of the containers and those that were being moved were not those that stevedores will be normally involved with. Nonetheless that will not be done until that meeting this afternoon. I spoke to the Minister of Labour and she has assured that the meeting will take place as planned this afternoon and then we see where we go from there. One of the issues the CEO is saying at this time, they don’t know what the demands are. I would suggest that you put something and outline what the demands are.”

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“Which CEO? “

 

Chester Williams

“Mr. Vasquez.”

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“I am not here to respond what he has to say…”

 

Chester Williams

“Put forth whatever those demands are so that they know exactly what it is that you all are requesting.”

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“I don’t have any respond to that. That is why we are having a meeting at one.”

Chester Williams

“There is an Essential Service Act which clearly states what are the process to be followed when it comes to a situation like this.”

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“This is starting to feel like a preemptive threat.”

 

Chester Williams

“No Mose, man. You have to follow the law brother.”

 

Evan Mose Hyde

“If it is become that then we are aware if there is a belief that we are acting outside we know how that is to be process. It is fine of two hundred and fifty dollars with a possibility of imprisonment for six months.”

 

And these stevedores have news for the Port’s management: they have had enough.

 

Stevedore

Stevedore

“We are hoping that the best comes out of the meeting because Mr Vasquez is a wicked man. We got tired of he. I am an easy man but don’t play with the big part of my cabbage leaf. He is a lot of trouble.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Should it have reach this point?”

 

Stevedore

“It shouldn’t have reach this point. He is a lot of trouble.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“You have had enough?”

 

Stevedore

“We had enough of he. We want to set the record straight with the Labour Commissioner, the Prime Minister and Tux Vasquez no more talking! Paper to sign in black and white.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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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