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Mar 30, 2023

P.B.L. Attorney Says They Feel Stevedores Engaged in a Strike Not in Good Faith

Hector Guerra

Attorneys for the stevedores and the C.W.U. raised a preliminary point of law, on the argument that they enjoy statutory immunity, and that they can’t be subjected to legal action under the law. But as Guerra explains, the P.B.L. has a very different view on that argument. The matter was adjourned until later in May to give the judge ample time to consider the weighty arguments put before her today. If the judge finds at that point that the C.W.U. and the stevedores enjoy statutory immunity, then there won’t be a need for a full trial. If she rules in favour of the P.B.L., however, then a full trial, with witnesses giving testimony will follow that ruling.


Hector Guerra, Attorney for Port of Belize Limited

“Our position is that that argument is fundamentally flawed because while we concede that in certain instances, you do in fact enjoy statutory immunity, but only if the strike action was done in a legal fashion. So, for example, there is a settlement of disputes in the Essential Services Act in Belize which requires a union and its members to first advise a minister of industrial issues that they’re having with their employer. That’s important. Why, because you have an essential service such as stevedoring, yes, so it would not be prudent if they can simply decide that they’ll strike from a day-to-day basis for the economy because the economy would clearly suffer. As a result, parliament, in its wisdom, has said okay, stevedores, you can strike but only if after giving the minister notice of your dispute, the minister hasn’t within a period of twenty-one days, referred your dispute to what’s called the essential services tribunal, which is a tribunal that’s then triggered by the minister by way of a notice of reference in which the minister says: tribunal – these are the issues that the employer and the employees can’t get along with and as a result, I’m asking you to please resolve this. At the time, that tribunal had in fact been triggered within the twenty-one-day period that I’m saying and so the tribunal was actively hearing the C.W.U’s complaints and in fact, ultimately issued a ruling which was in the C.W.U’s favour. Despite all of that, the C.W.U decided that it would engage in industrial action. Clearly, logically, we’re saying that that strike was not lawful and as a result, you can’t enjoy any statutory immunities, and as a result, number two, you engage in a strike not in good faith.”

The Christian Workers Union is being represented by attorneys Darrell Bradley and Magali Perdomo.

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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