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May 29, 2023

P.B.L. Holds Steady, No Compensation for Stevedores at This Time

The Port of Belize Limited has remained mum in a matter involving the Christian Workers Union, regarding compensation for stevedores who claim that they lost significant wages when A.S.R./B.S.I. transferred its export operations to Big Creek.  All parties, including the Ministry of Labor, met as a tripartite body earlier this month in an attempt to negotiate a settlement.  While the C.W.U. came out swinging last week, the Port of Belize has been rather silent.  News Five spoke with Chief Executive Officer Ted Peralta who remained firm on P.B.L.’s position.  Here’s News Five’s Isani Cayetano with the following story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Since leaving the room on May eleventh, the Port of Belize Ltd. and its attorneys have remained silent on the progress of negotiations with waterfront workers.  Both parties, as well as the Ministry of Labor, agreed to limit what would be said in public regarding a sugar redundancy package. Stevedores lost wages a few years ago, when ASR/BSI relocated its export operations to Big Creek.  On the other hand, the Port of Belize contends that no one was laid off as a result of that loss of business.


Ted Peralta

Ted Peralta, C.E.O., Port of Belize Ltd.

“Our position, regardless of what the CWU believes is their expectation, still remains the fact that we have made nobody redundant.  Now that, as well, carries on to two principles.  At the end of the day, when the CWU took the decision to first create what was a go-slow with the BSI sugar barges, the eventually led to the inefficiency and ineffectiveness that then caused these sugar barges to go down south.  That, in effect, then caused losses to everybody, specifically PBL who bore those losses.”


Ted Peralta is the Chief Executive Officer at Port of Belize Ltd.  The labor dispute between waterfront workers and their employer predates his leadership of the company.  Nonetheless, he shares the following information after an analysis of annual salaries.


Ted Peralta

“On average, our employees used to make thirty-three thousand, five hundred and eighteen dollars.  In 2022 alone, when the barge went away, they were still making thirty-three thousand and fifty-eight dollars.  So the disparity of where the loss is, is up for debate.  But at the end of the day, it still remains for PBL to absorb those losses and these are just our gang members.  Our seconds, our substitutes, who use to work the barges more, they went from making twelve thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars now.”


Setting aside the issue of yearly income, the compensation that stevedores are seeking follows a ruling by the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal.  That decision specifies that they are to be paid by PBL for the loss of wages.  Getting them to comply with the judgment has been a challenge for the Christian Workers Union.


Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde

Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde, Special Advisor, C.W.U.

“We are very concerned about how this matter, the ESAT ruling is going to be backed up.  We can’t look for any other choice at this point in time, except to go to our members to lay out the matter in front of them and have them give us a consensus marching order because that is where we are now.”


What about the company?  In the face of the decision given by the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal, PBL maintains its unwavering position on the matter; no one was dismissed from work.


Ted Peralta

“At this point in time, I cannot say that we are at that point that we have some form of compensation.  At the end of the day, like I said, we strongly believe that our position is that nobody was made redundant.  So there’s no need or no necessity for any payout in that regard because our employees continue working at the same level they were working without any issue.”


Last week, the CWU broke its silence.


Evan ‘Mose’ Hyde

“We only come forward to speak because now our commitment to sit around a table and negotiate has been treated with great disdain, has been treated with disrespect; no willingness to legitimately resolve these issues.  And so, it’s a part of our responsibility to come now to the public to say, “this is where we are now on this matter.”


But, is Port of Belize Ltd. purposely ignoring the tribunal’s ruling?  According to Peralta, PBL is unwilling to yield simply because the stevedores have transitioned to other aspects of waterfront work without losing money.


Ted Peralta

“We obviously cannot agree to what they are asking for because at the end of the day, the sugar redundancy is based on the definition of redundancy when there is no redundancy that has been undertaken, because these same employees that used to work sugar moved into barge, as I previously explained.  These guys are earning the same, as was from previous years in 2022.”


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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