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Jul 29, 2022

P.B.L. Offers Training for Workplace Professionalism for Stevedores

The relationship between the Port of Belize Limited and its employees, dozens of stevedores who work tedious shifts loading and offloading cargo entering and leaving the country has been a rather contentious one.  Oftentimes we’ve covered labor disputes between P.B.L. and the Christian Workers Union.  But it’s things are taking a turn for the better and the management of the harbor facility has made training possible for a number of waterfront workers who are interested in developing themselves professionally.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Stevedores at the Port of Belize Limited have completed necessary training in workplace conduct, as part of their professional development.  The waterfront workers participated in a two-day course that was organized by the company.  It’s a turnaround from the often tense and adversarial relationship between the union which represents the dockhands and their employer.


Hertha Gentle

Hertha Gentle, Human Resource Manager, P.B.L.

“We are in a state where we are currently doing some repairs on our trestle which, by the way, we will be up and running again to vessel traffic on the fourth of August.  So one of the things we decided to do was to take this time off for our stevedores and to then engage in trying to up skill them with supervisory level skills.  So what we did was to get an extremely good facilitator, Ms. Sherlette Neal Lopez to come in and work along with our gang foremen, our assistant gang foremen, our union reps within the gangs and our hatch foremen.  The idea here is to get people to get some skills to be able to supervise the people they have to supervise within the gangs, to prepare them for communicating with the staff that they’re responsible for on the sight.”


Bruce Diaz belongs to one of several gangs that work at the harbor.  What he has learned during the brief course is how to carry himself properly while on the job and how to respond to his colleagues, notwithstanding the challenges that come along with the work that they are doing.


Bruce Diaz

Bruce Diaz, Stevedore

“The training is very informative.  It could assist in many different areas in our workplace.  Firstly, the training in discipline.  You have to have discipline within your workplace, starting from authority and coming down to the smaller man.  It also consists of safety.  If you don’t have discipline on the worksite, yoh noh wahn have safety because yoh noh wahn di move according to the authority that is set in order fi di job fi flow eena wahn proper manner.”


The sessions were facilitated by Sherlette Neal.  At the end of the workshop, it is anticipated that these stevedores will put into practice the skills that they have learned.


Sherlette Neal

Sherlette Neal, Training Facilitator

“What we expect that they will take away are those skills, particularly, for example, we look at things like your communication style.  A lot of times we find that they feel that they have to be aggressive in order to be heard and many of them expressed that, and so it’s reinforcing the idea that, no, you don’t have to be aggressive to be heard.  You can be assertive.  In fact, sometimes when you are aggressive, it’s a turnoff, it’s the opposite.  And so, we look at what were some of those goals of communication and we established that at its basic level, in communication the goal is to hear and to be heard.”


What Diaz has also learned is to leave certain personal feelings and attitudes at the front gate.  It is important to do so in order for them to foster a professional working environment where everyone respects each other and they are able to get the job done efficiently.


Bruce Diaz

“When you go on the worksite, we are trained and learn that you leave that behind because different individuals bring different things to the table.  Maybe you left home mad, sad, dis one yah left home happy and he cohn di smile todeh and you noh eena smile mood.  Yoh leave that behind, yoh deh da di workplace and weh we work, yoh haftu be competent with your work because otherwise anything could go wrong at any time because we are dealing with heavy equipment and we are dealing with steel and a lot of stuff around us, every time.  So if you have competence on your worksite and you respect authority, I think we would move eena wahn different fashion.”


The initiative, says Hertha Gentle, P.B.L.’s human resource manager, is a departure from what is usually covered in the media.


Hertha Gentle

“Often times when people look at the P.B.L. and look at the relationship between management and the stevedores, they only associate it with drama and we are trying to say no, that’s not the case, that’s not how we live.  So that’s a part of what we are trying to create too.”


Isani Cayetano For News Five.


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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