It has been 57 hours and counting since the Stevedores at the Port of Belize began protesting. Today, they were joined by truckers and other union members. The truckers reportedly joined in when they arrived at the port this morning and realized what was happening. They parked in queue blocking the cargo entrance of the Port of Belize. According to some of the truckers they were reporting to work at the Port but due to the protest, they could not get any work done and so they decided to join in the protest. President of the Christian Workers Union, Evan Mose Hyde, told the media today that they are willing to resolve the issue, but they refuse to be undermined.
Evan Mose Hyde, President, Christian Workers Union: “The take home out of that that we brought and presented to the stevedores yesterday evening was that the stevedores would move from being on protest and instead they would utilize the provision of the 21 day notice to strike under the Essential Service Act that they put on the stevedores in 2015. The Port of Belize would then utilize that twenty one days with us to negotiate out at the very least by the end of that twenty one days have a signed memorandum of understanding to deal with the matter of any possible redundancy. So we would have a memorandum of understanding for a redundancy compensation package and that would be up to twenty one days and then at sixty days we would have a fully fleshed out agreement that would be in place to protect our members if ever ASR don’t move it’s shipping down to Big Creek. So the twenty one days would give us an opportunity to create that security blanket. In the event that we did not get PBL acting in good faith, if we felt that after twenty one days that listen you guys have not been available, you guys were not genuine, you guys were not willing to compromise, you had no effort at all then the stevedores would then go on a strike whose legality we would not be able to question it, it would be according to the very unfair categorization of stevedores as an essential service.”
Also at the protest today was President of the National Trade Congress of Belize, Marvin Mora. Mora says the NTUCB stands in solidarity with the Stevedores.
Evan Mose Hyde, President, Christian Workers Union: “Instead of confirming the agreements that we had PBL is questioning what we mean by our email. Let me just walk you through that again. The email was just supposed to be a confirmation of things discussed that I took to the members. They were simply to email a signed confirmation so that we could move forward and their email says to me, this is what they write ‘I acknowledge receipt of your letter addressed to Dr.Carla Barnett Minister of State for Labor and copied to me CEO of the Port of Belize. It is our understanding from your letter that you have now invoked the twenty one day notice of intent to strike provided under the settlement of disputes in Essential Services Act which would indicate that the stevedores will return to work. However please indicate to us the nature of the dispute that has triggered the twenty one day notice to strike.” Mek I repeat that, “Please indicate to us the nature of the dispute.” meaning I noh know weh unu di talk bout unu going on strike. It’s as if though Monday to today didn’t happen, it’s as if though you all did not speak to him, did not have news stories, is as if though the meeting yesterday did not happen. “Regarding the remainder of the letter which is based on our discussions yesterday we shall respond via separate correspondence to that in due course.”
The ongoing protest has prompted a meeting with labor officials. We understand that the meeting concluded a few minutes ago and included the stevedores and the Minister of State in the Ministry of Labor, Doctor Carla Barnett. Love News understands that some agreements were put on the table and the CWU would have to take them to its membership for discussion.