The Stevedores are disgruntled over the new working hours, which is being proposed by the Port of Belize Limited (PBL). Therefore, the Christian Workers Union (CWU) has sent a letter to the PBL threatening industrial action. Under their present working hours, stevedores may work from fifteen to thirty hours per shift. Meanwhile, under the proposed new working hours, the stevedores will see a reduction in hours per shift and an increase in the amount of work days. The CWU held another press conference on the matter today in which the President, Evan “Mose” Hyde told the media that the change of hours will result in a significant reduction in the stevedores’ salaries.
Evan “Mose” Hyde – President of the Christian Workers Union: “We had our certified accountant look at the proposals, do an analysis of the proposal establishing that if he were to use hours as a figure when it comes to how much you get paid for hour, the mathematics you would have then would be reduced from about $11/2 per hour to about $8 ½ per hour. It’s not directly like that because there are different factors such as your containers that you work but just on a comprehensive to make it easy for you, that’s what you are looking at. Not to forget to mention the fact that the multiple times that your members will now have to visit the job site, the transportation cost to get there simply to comply do get the same amount of hours to get the same amount of revenue.”
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour, Dr. Carla Barnett and the Attorney General, Michael Peyreffitte have intervened in the hopes of assisting the parties to arrive at a peaceful solution and avoid strike action.
Evan Mose Hyde CWU President: “Like I said she has met with by this time the interview is over I would have think she would have met with both of us twice and the commitment is that we will be in touch incessantly, we expect maybe not to meet every time but by phone and other forms of communication because obviously this is a matter of high priority, rightfully so and this conversation will be maintained and going it to next week ofcourse we await the Solicitor General legal opinion on this matter, that is something that we are eagerly anticipating, again our position is that the law is there to protect workers from abuse and not to prevent workers from earning the kind of salaries that makes them have financial stability.”
PBL says the new working hours are in compliance with the law. Also, the ship companies have expressed concern whether the stevedores can perform at their best given such long hours.