Christian Workers Union calls for government intervention in Port of Belize Limited dispute.

Christian Workers Union calls for government intervention in Port of Belize Limited dispute.

The Christian Workers Union (CWU) is calling on the government to intervene and force the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) to implement the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal’s ruling. In 2021, the parties met with the tribunal after the CWU invoked a 21-day strike notice, and a ruling was handed down. The tribunal had ordered that both entities negotiate a settlement, but to date, PBL has stated that it will offer no such compensation. In response, the CWU says it drew back on an informal agreement to have a 2-gang 1-ship system and reverted to the old system outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). CWU President, Evan “Mose” Hyde, explained today during a press conference that the move was done after members felt they needed to take a stand.

Mose Hyde, President, CWU: “Our members are starting to demand “what are we going to do?” We said well members you have to decide what our options are and so there was a meeting and the members had a range of things that they were feeling and they were encouraged – listen we are stretched out, we have court cases, the union finances are being pressured, we have to act, we have to find a responsible way forward to register our dissatisfaction with the fact that the rule of law is failing them. And so they took the most available way to demonstrate listen this thing is serious and what did they do? They did what they have a constitutional right to do to say listen we are going to go with our contract that we have with you. That’s all our members did and they are being characterized as being bad actors, as extorting. They are demanding what every citizen of Belize has a fair expectation to be theirs, that the rule of law is going to be fair with them. Because if the shoe was on the other foot they would make sure that our membership is acting in compliance with that ruling and with the law. Man that is fair. That is responsible. And even now remember now- I need to make it clear that the good gesture, the letters sent by our attorney to say listen let us settle and let us clear the air and have this thing all this is being done while we are being taken to court.”

Hyde says that on Friday morning, during a meeting with the Labor Department, the CWU voted to stick with the terms set out in their CBA. He says that the PBL chose to be absent from the evening portion of that meeting and claims that the CWU is now stuck in limbo. The union President explained that they hope to meet with the PBL before the MV Aries 056 to avoid any confusion or delay in the future.

Mose Hyde, President, CWU:  “We did the vote and we returned 1:00 o’clock and we were told “well the other side has indicated that they are not coming because they have to meet with their lawyers.” and we said fair. We want you to know that we are available tonight, we want you to know that we are available tomorrow morning, we want you to know that we are available tomorrow afternoon, we are available midnight, we are available Sunday, anytime of the day or night because we understand working through this very challenging issue has to be our highest priority and we are not going to get it done by sending these press releases shouting out at other. No results have ever come from that. The only results we have had is when we get around that table and we deal with it. We knock it out. So imagine how we feel now it is Tuesday, it is Tuesday and we still have not in fact not only have we not had any sense of when we are going to dialogue again but there’s been nothing, crickets. Crickets coming out of the regulatory body. Crickets coming from the other side. That’s where we find ourselves so we are very thankful,  we have to be magnanimous and say listen a decision was made yesterday and they decided to allow gang five to work the MV Aries at least to do the 15 hours. We have our brother here who finished work at 6:00 this morning and we have the brother who gave the prayer he finished work at 6:00 this morning. They did 15 hours, did some work on the MV Aries and that’s where we stand right now. But that does not resolve the elephant in the room because in a couple of days by next week we have the same vessel returning. We have no idea what notice will be sent to us. We have no idea of what the client is going to do because we are unable to say to the client anything other than we are going to work according to our CBA.”

The CWU’s Chief Union Representative, Marlon Middleton, expressed his frustration and claims that the stevedores deserve to be compensated after what he says is, “putting their lives on the line for the country”.

Marlon Middleton, Chief Representative, CWU: “When it comes to sacrifices our stevedores – let me put it in layman terms myself I am a stevedore I’m not just a chief rep I am a stevedore. My gang was supposed to work this week. I have a loan to pay, I am sacrificing right? All of the stevedores are sacrificing now. We are tired. We are tired of this. We are tired of taking this lick, all we are asking PBL is to get off of our money that we deserve. I am a stevedore from I was 14, I watched Mr. Guy, Mr. Guy brought me up, taught me the work. I drive the winch and Mr. Pango here these are guys that taught me the work, that told me to not to back down right? We are not backing down guys. I don’t have much to say because I don’t want to get caught saying the wrong thing but I’m hurt because we fight every day for this country, we work hard. We put our lives on the line for this country. For everybody in this country. And people take us the wrong way and say that all we do is fight for money. That is money we deserve. We went from making an earning you could say like – I’ll just throw out a figure let’s go say we were making $30,000 now we are making $15,000 because the sugar is gone. How can we go to the bank for a loan? Those are things that people don’t know.”

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