Essential Services Tribunal to Reconvene, Seeking Resolution to CWU and PBL Dispute
The Essential Services Tribunal will reconvene on Wednesday, June 28 with an aim to bring a solution for both the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) and the Port of Belize Limited (PBL). It was just over two weeks ago that the CWU issued a 21-day notice to strike which expires at the end of the month. The reconvening of the tribunal is the government’s attempt to put this issue to bed. According to Minister of Labour, Oscar Requena, it is his hope that the tribunal will be able to clarify any misgivings or misinterpretations from both parties.
Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Labour: “I want to say that we have reconvened the tribunal for them to make or to make clarifications or to answer any questions in relation to the award that was handed down last year by the tribunal. We have also informed the CWU of this development in terms of the tribunal now being reconvened. Well, I think it is important to note that under the Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act there are certain things that we’re required to do. In a case like this, we are required to refer any dispute to the tribunal and in this case that is the reason why we have reconvened the tribunal and they are going to be meeting on Wednesday the 28th and that is well before the expiry date of the notice of intended strike that was submitted by CWU to our ministry. So as you can see we have been taking certain steps as is outlined and as is afforded by the act.”
One of the reports from the CWU has been that the ministry has failed to intervene on the issue. This, however, is not so clear cut, as Love News understands that the ministry relies on the tribunal to decide on such matters to avoid any allegations of political interference. Minister Requena explained that this is one of the reasons to have the tribunal reactivated.
Hon. Oscar Requena, Minister of Labour: “When the dispute was initially brought to our ministry, as the minister responsible to deal with these matters we responded by setting up a tribunal. There were clear points of reference that were outlined in terms of how they were to go about to carry out their duties, as outlined by the Act. They heard the matter, the matter was fully ventilated. They made a ruling and both parties were informed of the ruling. They are fully aware of that. We know that the matter of enforcement of the ruling is a concern to one party, but that is not a matter for us to enforce. That is a matter for the higher court to enforce. I think it’s important that I clarify that the 28th is only the first meeting of the tribunal so obviously this is a work in progress and after the 28th they are going to set out their schedule of work and the process will continue. So… don’t expect that the matter is going to be resolved on the 28th. But the process would have started and I’m hoping that through this process both parties can come to the table and discuss in a very amicable and respectful way, and find a solution to this situation.”
The Essential Services Tribunal is made up of representatives from the government, the private sector and the working sector. It is chaired by Attorney William Lindo. For context, the CWU’S notice to strike was based on the union’s reported attempts to settle a trade dispute with the Port of Belize Limited. The 21-days’ notice expires on June 30, 2023./