The Christian Workers’ Union says that they are confused and are growing impatient as the Labour Department tries to settle the impasse between waterfront workers and the Port of Belize. Now that offloading sugar barges at Big Creek is coming closer to reality, the union has entered a tribunal process to arrive at what’s described as a sugar separation compensation package. Union president, Evan “Mose” Hyde, who attended FECTAB’s press conference today explained.
Evan Mose Hyde – President, CWU: “We do come out of the tribunal with a joint position that the ministry of labour has to come to the table, create a tripartite negotiation with ourselves so that we can tackle the matter of negotiating the sugar separation compensation package. We will be writing to the Ministry of Labor, there was a commitment given before the chair and the tribunal that it will be a joint position expressed by ourselves and PBL. That is the latest update that we can give.”
Our newsroom asked Hyde if he’s optimistic about the future, given these rapid changes and comments made in the public arena. Here’s what he had to say.
Evan Mose Hyde – President, CWU: “Over the past couple of days we get reports of- we’ve seen the advertisements for the selling off of the barges, the auctioning off I think fifteen of the barges. We know that ASR is dismantling all infrastructure that deals with moving sugar from Orange Walk to Belize City and so that is a level of irreversibility that is setting in when it comes to that. So whatever we are discussing here about trying to create a separation package is still if we get everything that we would want and ask for in a negotiations it’s not going to be near what the total loss is going to be for every working person who has been working sugar when you calculate the years they have remaining to work the waterfront before retirement and the annual revenues that they get off of sugar that will be gone. Imagine if you’re a 25 year old stevedore means that you have forty years left on the waterfront, that’s forty years worth of sugar earnings that essentially evaporated. I guess the point I’m making is that what we are negotiating are mere ointments for a very deep wound. A deep wound that will not only be borne by the stevedores but by the community in which they live, the society that they exchange their earnings with. So optimistic about finding some small sense of where at least you have this in the meantime. The only thing we can cling to is that PBL has maintained a position since July 21st that it’s going to negotiate the matter and that position that it’s going to negotiate the matter is the thing that gives a bit of sanity to our members amidst a lot of crazy stuff being said and a great great cloud of uncertainty that’s where we are.”
The Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labor & Local Government reported to Cabinet that negotiations between the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize over the collective bargaining agreement between the staff of the Port of Belize were progressing steadily towards a successful outcome and that the matter involving the stevedores was now before the Labour Tribunal.