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Jul 22, 2020

PBL’s Attorney Speaks on Filing of the Injunction

Godfrey Smith

From the violence on the PBL compound to the courts…On Tuesday night we told you that the Attorney General would file a request for injunction, on behalf of the Labour Commissioner, to stall the implementation of redundancy at the Port of Belize. Well, before the AG could file that injunction, at eleven o’clock today the Port of Belize informed the thirty-six employees, reportedly by text message. And so this afternoon, the matter did go before the court at two o’clock where the Labour Commissioner was represented by Kilero Awich and the Port of Belize was represented by attorney Godfrey Smith. Following today’s court proceedings, Smith spoke briefly to reporters about what transpired in court, saying that they thought there was no ground for the injunction or the reinstatement. Smith points out that he found the Labour Commissioner’s order for reinstatement odd because he expected that to come from the workers.

 

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for PBL

“Put very simply, the other side had notice of the contemplated terminations from at least a week ago. They waited until this morning to file an application. I got notice of it – I was retained one hour before court began. By that time, as I indicated to the court, the termination had already taken effect. That is one order that the labour commissioner applied for and the other order is reinstatement, which we found to be an odd request because the request for reinstatement should come from the workers. We found it odd that the Labour Commissioner, before whom the complaints are to go, descended into defray and as it were chosen one side. That really is it. We thought there were no grounds for granting the injunction or the order for reinstatement. The arguments put on behalf of the attorney general and the labour commissioner was that there was a breach of the statute, failure to consult. We said no, there was no failure to consult. But if that is the breach that you are saying that the port did, the remedy for that is an order compelling consultation, not an order for reinstatement. It is the workers who need to bring that case.”

 

Reporter

“The principal complain against your client is that they by-passed or violated the labour laws by carrying through the terminations of these thirty six employees without fully complying with the labour commissioner request to be properly notified and consulted?”

 

Godfrey Smith

“And the very simple response is that the Port of Belize has scrupulously followed the letter and spirit of the law.”

 

Reporter

“The C.W.U. has maintained that they must show the books to say that we are above this limit in terms of this revenue that is coming in?”

 

Godfrey Smith

“I will only repeat what I said earlier. Having examined the documentation; having looked at the labour act; the settlement of disputes in essential services act; the trade union recognition act and all, the full plethora of labour codes existing in Belize, we are satisfied that we are following the law. It will be settled at the appropriate tribunal or the appropriate court. It doesn’t make sense for you and I to debate it here. We feel that we are following the law. They feel we are not. The court will decide or the relevant tribunal will decided. Thank you very much.”


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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