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Home » Economy, People & Places » C.W.U. Puts B.P.L. & G.O.B. on Strike Notice
Jun 9, 2023

C.W.U. Puts B.P.L. & G.O.B. on Strike Notice

For the past few weeks, it has been fairly quiet when it comes to the impasse between stevedores and Port of Belize Limited. And so today, it came almost as a curveball when the Christian Workers Union, which represents the stevedores, invoked the twenty-one day notice to commence industrial action against P.B.L. In its letter to the Minister of Labour, the C.W.U. says that “despite various attempts, including with the involvement of your ministry, there remains a live trade dispute between C.W.U. and P.B.L.”. The dispute, according to the letter, stems from P.B.L.’s refusal to abide by the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal Award that was handed down on January twenty-seventh, 2022. Port of Belize Limited issued a release immediately thereafter, claiming that it is yet another unreasonably issued notice to engage in industrial action. The release says “the C.W.U.’s notice to strike is based on its entirely misconceived interpretation of the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal ruling of thirtieth March 2022 which the C.W.U. wrongfully asserts awarded its member stevedores redundancy payments for the move of bulk sugar to the Port of Big Creek.” P.B.L. says no such award was issued by the tribunal, and that no stevedore was made redundant as a result of this. The release goes on to say that the port suffered significant losses due to the decision taken by B.S.I., and that the reasoning behind it was because of the inefficient and unreliable manner in which stevedores discharged their duties. The release ends by saying that, “the repeated and unreasonable use of industrial action by the C.W.U. holds the entire Belizean economy at ransom as goods remain at a standstill at PBL causing substantial losses.”…and before five p.m., C.W.U. fired back; this time via release, saying that P.B.L.’s statement was wilfully misleading.  The union says that it is setting the record straight because the tribunal’s March 2022 award was based in part of the 2020 agreement, which was signed among the then Labour Minister, P.B.L. and C.W.U.  According to the release, “that agreement anticipated payment to stevedores for income loss in the event the export of raw sugar left the Belize City Harbour, as happened in July, 2021.” The release ends by saying that C.W.U. and stevedores reject outrightly P.B.L.’s attempt to frame the strike notice as “ransoming.”

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