The Utility workers Unions (BWSWU/BCWU/BEWU) are in solidarity with the Christian Workers Union (CWU) as they address the current impasse in negotiation with their employer, Port Of Belize Limited. The joint press release says that they believe that compliance with current labour legislation is not to be used as an excuse to reduce the take-home income for the workers. And when it comes to industrial action the utility workers unions said QUOTE “we are monitoring and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds, and stand ready to lend our support and assistance to the CWU as it becomes necessary.” UNQUOTE. That’s a strong hint that the union may be willing to take to the pavement if it becomes necessary, however, those unions also urge the CWU and the Port of Belize to resume negotiations. And that’s exactly what they did today. The CWU and the Port representative met with Dr. Carla Barnett, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and she told Love News that both groups have agreed to return to the bargaining table.
Reporter: You met with the CWU and the Port today what has been the result of that meeting?
Dr.Carla Barnett, Minister of State, Ministry of Labor: “The meeting was a very cordial meeting, we met for maybe about two hours or so with both sides and at the end of those discussions there is an agreement in principle, and I’ll explain why I say in principle, that they will come back to the negotiating table on next Wednesday. I say in principle because the union needed the rest of today to consult with the remainder of their negotiating team that was not there. But based on all our discussions we expect to see two sides around the table on Wednesday of next week and what we’ve also agreed is that there is going to be an observer from the Ministry of Labor; one of our senior staff will be sitting in on those meetings not to participate because it’s between the two sides but to observe and to advise me on whether or not the meetings are going on in a productive way.”
Reporter: The stevedores do provide an essential service and the twenty one days is still counting, is there still a side move or preparation you made for possible mediation in case there is a tribunal ?
Dr.Carla Barnett, Minister of State, Ministry of Labor: “Well we have to do our work so we are preparing that at any rate because we really ought to have that mechanism in place so we are proceeding with that, to prepare for the establishment of a tribunal if that should ever become necessary. So that is there yes.”
Reporter: Essentially the news is that they have agreed sit down.
Dr.Carla Barnett, Minister of State, Ministry of Labor: They’ve agreed to sit down, both sides were very strong in their decision that they know that they have to come back to the table because if they don’t come back to the table there is no negotiation, there is no CBA, no end to the process.”