Minister of Local Government Speaks on Stevedore Payment Issue
Also coming out of this morning’s house meeting was the issue of the stevedores, and the ruling from the Essential Services Tribunal as it relates to monies owed to the stevedores. The question on this issue was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Moses Shyne Barrow. Barrow queried whether the stevedores will be paid and when. Responding to the opposition leader was the Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development, Oscar Requena.
Oscar Requena, Minister of Rural Transformation: “The tribunal issued it’s oral award on January 27th 2022 followed by a written award on March 30th 2022 directing both the CWU and the Port of Belize Limited to engage in negotiations to determine the terms of payment for the redundance package. Despite the tribunal’s directive the award was not adhered to prompting the Ministry’s intervention in facilitating negotiations. As negotiations were not initiated the Port asserted that the award had been met leading to the submission of a latter on June 9th 2023 by the CWU. Acknowledging the tribunal’s jurisdiction and recognizing that the enforcement falls within the purview of the high court the Ministry of Labour has diligently facilitated the resolution of disputes culminating in an award. In response to the challenges faced the Ministry reconstituted the tribunal and applied sections 11, 12, and 14 of the laws of Belize to address the matter. On June 23rd 2023 the ministry reinstated the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal to review the award as in the CWU’s letter dated June 9, 2023 resulting from the 2021 dispute. The matter was referred to the tribunal for a decision on interpretation. On December 8th, 2023 the tribunal dismissed the application by the complainant upholding the previous clear and unambiguous award. The Ministry of Labour in strict adherence to the settlement of disputes in Essential Services Act has actively facilitated the resolution of disputes ultimately leading to the award. The subsequent enforcement process lies within the jurisdiction of the high court. Today it is crucial to emphasize that the acquisition of the Port of Belize by the Government of Belize positions the CWU favorably. The government affirms its commitment to fair treatment of workers. An interim board has been appointed to oversee the operations of the port. In conclusion I wish to emphasize that the CWU and the interim board are currently engaged in discussions addressing various pending matters. The government is committed to take all necessary actions to ensure compliance with its obligations.”
Our newsroom will keep an eye on the developments of the stevedore issue at the Port of Belize.