The 150 stevedores employed at the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) should have been going on strike yesterday if their representative the Christian Workers Union did not reach an agreement with PBL regarding their collective bargaining agreement on Thursday. Both groups had initially stopped negotiating after PBL had declared an impasse and the CWU’s response was to initiate their intention to strike. The clock had counted down to the final 24 hours but the Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour Dr. Carla Barnett legally added ten days to CWU’s notice for industrial action and she told the media yesterday that the Labour Department has started the moving towards a possible tribunal.
Dr. Carla Barnett Minister of State, Minister of Labour: “We were in fact preparing to extend the 21 days by 10 days so that we could proceed with the establishment of the tribunal which is provided for under the law so that if it came to that we would be able to activate that very quickly and there were some words that went across the table that let them have their say. I think it was a bit of a misunderstanding about the intention of what we were doing but it’s really just to give us the space in which to do what is required of us under the law so today we wrote both the Port of Belize and the Christian Workers Union formally telling them that we were extending the 21 days by a further 10 days so that we could proceed to establish the tribunal required under the law and we also are sending off letters as we speak to the Chamber of Commerce and to the National Trade Union Congress to identify representatives who can become a part of the tribunal that is to be set up under the law. That period of notice has to be in effect for us to establish that Tribunal and in truth based on the way the discussions were revolving on the other matters, it seemed to us that in fact it was going in the right direction, they were talking about important things and making agreements on important things so for us it was a good meeting that they had.”