The Port of Belize (PBL) and the Christian Workers Union (CWU) have engaged in a battle of “he said, she said” stemming from a proposal to reduce staff salaries by 10%. The union believes that PBL is essentially telling lies to give the impression that the company is working in the best interest of its workers while the union is being unfair and unreasonable. According to the president of CWU, Evan “Mose” Hyde, the union was not invited to a discussion regarding the reductions. As such, they believe the company is not being transparent, especially since they feel that PBL has had a history of duping them. According to the CWU, they have tried for two decades to engage the PBL in the renegotiation of the Collective Agreement (CA), but PBL has been ignoring them. The union adds that instead, the PBL gave the CWU a counterproposal which seems to want to take away the present benefits of the workers. So now, with the union setting the record straight and calling out the PBL on its misleading press released, they have reiterated that they will not accept the idea to cut salaries until they Port of Belize Limited discloses their financial records. CWU’s President Mose Hyde stated that their request is well within reason and that the union is already engaged in a discussion of how they will move forward if PBL continues with its plans to cut salaries.
Evan Mose Hyde, President, Christian Workers Union: “There is a specific requirement for the company to provide audited financials to the union so what we are asking for, we’re not asking for something that lets say extreme. We are not making an unreasonable request to say listen if we’re going to discuss compromise and sacrifice it must be independently verified, that is our due diligence and for the company to act arrogantly and disrespectfully, to outrightly suggest that this is some kind of outrageous expectation we find to be unacceptable. The financials of the company have been requested by this union multiple times and they have refused on the basis that they are a receivership. In our view and in legal opinion that we have that is not a right that a receivership has. The receivership has to respect the agreement that it inherits from that company and it’s staff. It is a demonstration of their corporate character, one of arrogance, one of “well we will do it with or without you whether we are wrong or right.”, we are even unable to comply with a very fair expectation to be transparent. What the union does, what our members do that is a plan that we have which includes this initiative to come through the media to engage the public.”
Another allegation made against the union by PBL has to do with the vote taken on whether they will accept the salary cut. According to the Port of Belize, the union did a secret poll and disallowed 67 out of a total of 152 union staff members to participate in the poll. Hyde rejected the statement.
Evan Mose Hyde, President, Christian Workers Union: “That lie is that we have a hundred and fifty members at the port, we do not. We have eight members and of those eight members sixty four were present so unanimous vote for those who were present and it would represent almost seventy five percent of our entire membership at PBL so they tried very deceitfully to suggest that the vote was illegitimate when they know very well and anybody that has been associated with a union knows that that’s how it works.”
CWU stated that they, quote, “Understand the unique challenges of this pandemic but… there will be no blind faith in the words of comfort from a management that doesn’t have a history of being trustworthy or respectful.” End quote. This issue has opened a Pandora’s Box of other conflicts between the Union and the Company, which we will have more on in tomorrow’s newscast.