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Aug 3, 2020

C.W.U. Demonstrates for P.B.L. Staff!

The C.W.U. and Port of Belize have signed a Collective Bargaining for the stevedores.  On Tuesday, the C.W.U. is set to begin a new round of negotiations for a new C.B.A., this time it’s for the staff of the P.B.L.  Today, they decided to take that cry to the streets in a demonstration which ended in a rally. The purpose of it is to raise awareness and make a statement about a number of issues that the staff says that they are facing. News Five went out to the rally today to find out more. Andrea Polanco has the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Christian Workers Union took to the streets of Belize City to demonstrate for the workers at the Port of Belize. President of CWU Evan Mose Hyde says that the staff has been without a collective bargaining agreement for almost twenty years – and reduced earnings and the recent redundancies of thirty six workers, twenty-nine of whom are union members, have compelled the workers to bring their plight and demands to the public in a demonstration called “Hear Our Cry.”


Evan “Mose” Hyde

Evan “Mose” Hyde, President, C.W.U.

“Today’s march was themed ‘Hear Our Cry’ and it is dealing with the adjacent bargaining unit of the staff. They share the same compound and employer at PBL but they are distinct units. So, the staff is comprised of people who work within the warehouse, mechanic section, office, security, maintenance and marine. And so they have been without a collective agreement since 2002. So, that is one of our concerns and to compound that there is an outdated CBA, we have had the earnings reductions and now the latest redundancy of twenty-eight of our members and a total of about thirty-five workers or thirty-six. So, when we say ‘Hear our Cry’ it is to make sure that their voices are not forgotten.”


…and that culminated with a rally at the Memorial Park. There, several of the redundant employees addressed the crowd – there they shared how their lives have been impacted by the terminations and they also spread message of hope.


Akila Noralez

Akila Noralez, Terminated Employee

“I am a part of the security department – well, I was a part of the security department until they sent me a text to say that my post has been redundant. I am a young, black single-mother of one; one boy that ain’t going to school because my post has been made redundant and I nuh have no money.”


Patrice Garnett

Patrice Garnett, Terminated Employee

“I am out here today fighting the cause and we will prevail. I am going to be back at Port some day, someway.”


President of the B.N.T.U., Senator Elena Smith and several B.N.T.U. members, also marched with the demonstrators today. She says she believes in their cause.


Elena Smith

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“Some of the issues they spoke about – the disrespect, the union busting, the lack of consultation. Those are issues that unions across the board face and so we can relate to those issues and we thought we would support them. But not only that, the cause that they are fighting for we believe is a just one that as unions we should come out in solidarity and support.”


…and while the C.W.U. and Port of Belize were able to sign off on a collective bargaining agreement for the stevedores, they were out supporting the staff with a message that, ‘if you touch one, you touch all.”


Guy Neal

Guy Neal, Waterfront Worker, P.B.L.

“We in solidarity, all ah we, at work at the Port of Belize and other people who work at other entities should be in solidarity with us today.”


Kenton Blanco

Kenton Blanco, Stevedore, P.B.L.

“As you may know, this is a two section march. One for the stevedores and we are standing in solidarity with the workers. As my brothers keep shouting, touch one touch all. So, we are keeping it together.”


…and that is why the C.W.U. says that they are standing firm on the need for a C.B.A. for the staff of the Port of Belize. Hyde says they remain hopeful as they move into meetings this week.


Evan “Mose” Hyde

“Getting the C.B.A. for stevedores is a feat that the brothers worked hard to achieve over a period of sixteen years but they are brothers and sisters of the same compound facing tremendous challenges and so I think today represents a kind of statement that we are still in this together and that we are still committed to making sure that we do the very best for our members and stand in solidarity.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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