Port of Belize and Christian Workers Union Lock Horns Over Payment Dispute
The notice from the Christian Workers Union (CWU) came just after three o’clock this afternoon. By the time it came in, the Port of Belize Limited had already pre-empted the notice by sending out their own statement on the notice of intended strike. In its release, the PBL refers to the CWU’s intention as being unreasonable, and further retorts that the union has misinterpreted the order of the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal. The PBL is saying that the ESAT awarded the stevedores payment for redundancy after the sugar business went to the Port of Big Creek. The PBL further asserts that since no stevedore was made redundant, then there is no need to offer any payment for redundancy. Additionally, the Port of Belize, wrote, quote, “While the port has suffered significant losses as a result of the move of bulk sugar to the Port of Big Creek, it has solely born those losses despite the fact that the reason Belize Sugar Industries Limited decided to move its shipping of bulk sugar to the Port of Big Creek was because of the inefficient and unreliable manner in which stevedores discharged their duties. The repeated and unreasonable use of industrial action by the CWU holds the entire Belizean economy at ransom as goods remain at a standstill at PBL causing substantial losses to producers, importers and exporters of goods who rely on the functionality of PBL.” End of quote. After the PBL’s response, the CWU issued a second release, calling the statement from PBL, “a willfully misleading press release.” According to CWU the order from ESAT had nothing to do with redundancy, but rather, it had to do with monies lost in the event that the sugar went down south. In the end, the port says the stevedores’ inefficiency was what led to them losing BSI/ASR, while the stevedores are saying that it’s the port’s fault for not making any meaningful investment in the port.