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Jul 31, 2020

PM Weighs in on P.B.L./C.W.U. Entanglement

Late this evening, the Christian Workers Union issued a release and the news is that contrary to what the Prime Minister asserted this morning, stevedores have not ended their strike.  The Port of Belize Limited and the C.W.U., however, remain in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.  The release from the C.W.U. states that, “While negotiating teams for the Port of Belize Limited and C.W.U., with facilitation by a team from the Ministry of Labour, continue to engage in negotiations to conclude a Collective Bargaining Agreement, stevedores in two unanimous votes, decided not to return to work without a signed C.B.A.” The release states that since a C.B.A. has not been a reached, stevedores have not returned to work. The union says that the erroneous reports of stevedores resuming work might have been prompted by the decision taken by P.B.L. staff to return to work, as a good faith gesture. According to the C.W.U., the P.B.L. staff has set two conditions: one, that P.B.L. reinstates the twenty-nine C.W.U. members who were terminated on July twenty-second, 2020; and second, that P.B.L. concludes a new C.B.A. for its staff by August twenty-eighth, 2020.  Until then, the C.W.U. is holding out.  So that is the latest word from the C.W.U.  This morning, the PM spoke extensively about the fluid situation saying that the stevedores were on duty. 


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Almost immediately, the Port of Belize dropped a precondition that had stalled the continuation of negotiations between that entity and CWU which the precondition was that the stevedores must return to work, the staff must return to work before there could be any further discussions.  That was dropped within an hour or two after that press conference.  So wittingly or unwittingly you in fact engineered a situation in which the mere possibility, I don’t say threat, the mere possibility of a contemplation of some sort of a national takeover of the port produced a wonderful result.  My latest reports are that the union is back at work this morning. It seems that the discussions that thereafter took place once the precondition was lifted and which resulted in at least a partial return to work this morning might now be confounded because of the very letter that the good Lord wrote.  Part of the arrangement, I understand, Dr. Barnett will correct me later if I am wrong, part of the arrangement that accompanied the new dispensation, the two sides talking and making some progress was that nobody would say anything in the least bit incendiary to the public.  I don’t think the union knew of this and they have now found out about it and I hope that it won’t amount to the good Lord being demonstrated, being proven to have contracted a case of foot in mouth disease.  The immediate objective which was to break the stalemate at the port that was punishing the entire country appears to have either been achieved or to be well within sight of being achieved.  But if that turns out to be the case, that’s still not the end of it.  When I look at this fellow’s letter and his disclosure, you know how much he layers all his business activities and there is company on top of company and you never know what the real deal is, this letter, he really was provoked and he perhaps said more than he should have… But we are enlightened as to the structure governing the administration of the port.  Inquiring minds have long wanted to know who owns the port.  As far as we are concerned, it is still Port of Belize Ltd.  The Port of Belize Ltd. is in receivership but the receivership doesn’t own the port, doesn’t own the assets.”

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