A disaster has been temporarily averted as the Labour Minister had been observing the head-on clash between the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) and the Christian Workers Union (CWU).
The 150 stevedores employed at the PBL should have been on strike today since their representative, the CWU did not reach an agreement with the PBL on their collective bargaining agreement on Thursday. The Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour, Dr. Carla Barnett legally added ten days to CWU’s notice for industrial action. The Labour Department has started making preparations for a possible tribunal to aid the two groups. PBL and the CWU had agreed to go back to negotiations next week Tuesday but the CWU’s President Evan Mose Hyde says that there is one sticking point from which they will not change their position.
Mose Hyde: “We do have problems on the Horizon because we brought up a matter that is very important to us and we told the PBL negotiating team since yesterday they indicated that the gang composition was a matter that they consider pending. Now you must understand for us that was considered an uncomfortable because our gang has already been reduced by the intimate agreement so we don’t view that as something that is pending. That is a matter where our Stevadors have already sacrificed a man. Apparently they are of the opinion that we are to look at reducing our gangs even further and we have told them that if there is anything that is made of titanium, it is that position. That even though we are here to negotiate when it comes to the gang size and so we have informed them that we will write a letter to the Minster to indicate that we have another problem, we are not declaring an impasse on it but we are saying that based on their response they are firm on their position and we have told them that our position is made of titanium then we want the Minster to get that on her radar to know that we have another serious problem between us right now.”
Carla Barnett Minister of Labour: “Sometimes it is not what you say it is how you say it and I think there was a little bit of a difficulty in the way things were being put across the table and it required a little bit of a cooling off. That happens from time to time as long as they come back to the table.”
PBL’s CEO Arturo Vasquez says the reduction of the gang size was part of give and take that resulted of a complete joint agreement. He said a 4 point agreement was signed in June, 2017 when 4 points were agreed to and that’s when the stevedores got an increase in their pension.