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Aug 22, 2011

Port Authority employees want Port Commissioner fired

A small protest was led today by the Belize Christian Workers Union and Port employees for the removal of the Ports Commissioner. The BCWU is claiming that John Flowers has not been honoring the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. The union claims that he has also refused to attend meetings, dismissed workers and that agreed schedules and job descriptions are not being met.  News Five’s Jose Sanchez spoke to the aggrieved parties.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The Belize Port Authority on North Front Street was the source of a mini protest led by the Belize Christian Workers Union and Port Authority employees who want their boss fired.

Jose Sanchez

“Most of your posters are saying remove John Flowers. Is this what you want? Is this the purpose of this protest?

Antonio Gonzalez

Antonio Gonzalez, President, Christian Workers Union

“Our position is this: that if we have a person who is not adhering to terms and conditions of the collective agreement, who arbitrarily and unilaterally imposed changes to the terms and condition of employment even though we go through the legal process of going through mediation with the Ministry of Labor and still yet he fails to comply with what he signs for. Then what else can we do? We want the removal of the ports commissioner. We want the removal of the post commissioner. That’s what some of the signs are saying. We want his removal because you can’t negotiate, you can’t have good industrial relations with a person who contravenes the collective agreement.”

Jose Sanchez

“But there are also power in numbers and we are seeing a little bit about thirty or so people. Is that enough to make your points heard?”

Antonio Gonzalez

“The numbers doesn’t matter. In fact, this is a small staff so we won’t have maybe a hundred or a hundred and odd. Some of the people as usual work between twelve and one so we won’t have the full compliment but at least about forty, forty-five.”

James McFoy, Secretary General, Christian Workers Union

“I think the message is that we want the message to be heard. The numbers will matter sometimes, but the message is more important than the numbers. So what we are saying is that by coming out here, there is some discontent amongst the union members and the union and Mister John Flowers. I think he believes he is above; he does not have to stoop. As a matter of he noh the labor commissioner. In many instance he does not respect the labor commissioner. When you ask for a meeting for him, he find all kinds of excuse or sometime noh even show up for a meeting. So he has no respect whatsoever. So who is supposed to be removed? It’s only him because he is the trouble and if he is the trouble, well you have to remove the trouble. And our message is going to be sent to the minister himself that we are not contented and we are not happy with Mister John Flowers. So if you have someone who is disrespecting the union, this is a legal union and the document that we signed is a legal document and he doesn’t want to respect it, well he has to go, simple as that.”

According to the unions, the relationship was respectful with former Ports Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones. But it has all gone down hill with John Flowers.

Antonio Gonzalez

“It was less controversial issues and so forth. Yes this commissioner inherited some of the issues, but not to the extent of the attitude and behavior of this Ports Commissioner.”

John Flowers

James McFoy

“We want the authority to hear, the Minister responsible, the Prime Minister to hear that we are not satisfied with this man and if we need to put in whatever next action needs to be done; we know exactly what to do. We are experienced, we know exactly what we will do.  This is just the beginning of it; this is just the first step so that the country can be aware that there is something going on in the Port Authority. If we noh come out here, people wah think that everything is fine and dandy with this place and this man. To answer your question if we had any previous; yes we did had with the previous who is a military man too, but we had but less confrontation. As a matter of fact, we had more meetings with the previous. This one refuse to attend meetings. This one refuse to respect the labor commissioner. So what are we supposed to do? Remove him.”

Antonio Gonzalez

Lloyd Jones

“We had requested a meeting with the Minister of concern, who is Mister Melvin Hulse. To date, Mister Hulse has not afforded us that opportunity to meet with him. As the minister responsible for the authority, I think he should have met with the union and discuss the issues. In fact, we need to give kudos to the Prime Minister. When we sent a letter to him about these issues, he immediately consulted with his Cabinet and said yes, Christian Workers Union, the minister will meet you all. If the Prime Minister could say that and the minister doesn’t meet with us, then something is wrong somewhere down the line.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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6 Responses for “Port Authority employees want Port Commissioner fired”

  1. Concerned Belizean says:

    I strongly believe that John Flowers should resign indeed. He’s just taking advantage of the workers that are there treating them like animals and if they have no rights and when they do stand up for what they believe in the are dismissed or punished for doing that. Intimidating them stating he will fire them if they speak up of only what they duly deserve and work so hard for. Even the chairman of the board has resigned becuse he does not agree with Mr. Flowers who it seems is being supported by Minister Hulse because after many attempts made for Minister Hulse to step in to try to help the situation he has not stepped up. So I agree completely with the workers of Belize Port Authority yes they are all there to make their daily bread but that doesnt mean they should be taken advantage of by Mr. Flowers. When Major Jones was there he knew how to run Belize Port Authority and treated his workers like people!

  2. c says:

    Flowers in incompetent… he should resign. Flowers do Belize a favor and get out of the BPA now!

  3. Earl Grey says:


    -Jamaican Pop Philosopher BOB MARLEY

  4. Tatianna says:

    Push on guys stand up and fight for your rights!!! John Flowers want to treat people like animals at Port not even providing a proper shelter for his workers to work treating people like dogs. When he sits up in his office on his throne firing ppl and treating workers unfairly what does he expect the workers are only human and are only asking for what’s theirs they have needs and families too! But he has to remember what goes up must come down!!

  5. Tatianna says:

    Push on guys stand up and fight for your rights!!! John Flowers NEEDS TO BE REMOVED!!! PRIME MINSTER HERE THE CRIES OF THESE WORKERS!!! He wants to treat people like animals at Port not even providing a proper shelter for these men and women treating people like dogs. When he sits up in his office on his throne firing people and treating workers unfairly what does he expect the workers are only human and are only asking for what’s theirs they have needs and families too!! But he has to remember WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN!!!

  6. Outdoor says:

    I agree, BPA is a total mess. Between the management and Hardworking Staff and also
    the condition of Equipment and Facilities, This has to be changed, if not it is turning into a
    night mare.

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