While the staff of the Port of Belize have successfully negotiated a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that gives them a 12% salary increase for the next 4 years, the Stevedores, who were discontented with their conditions and went on strike last year, still remains at a standstill. President of the Christian Workers Union, Audrey Matura-Shepherd, comments on the factors affecting that negotiation emphasizing that the strike worked against the workers.
“Honestly I don’t know what will really happen with Port Of Belize Limited because let us do the comparison, the reason we were able to negotiate a CBA here in record time is because when we sent out CBA to them they reviewed it and looked at things they could agree on and the things that we couldn’t agree on and we had to negotiate. When we sent our CBA to Port of Belize in 2015 and we started negotiations some time in about August it spiraled out of control, not all on the part of management but some of the things played perfectly into the hands of management, part of it because of our own workers and the things they do, the wild strikes and protest that they wanted to have, some of them that wanted to have agreements with management and who didn’t want to honor it. It’s a unit where they just feel that they should do everything and anything when they want and so sometimes you can’t sit down and that works in favor of management because management right now does what they want with them and there is no CBA to control and regulate.”
Matura said the regulation passed classifying stevedore as an essential service, makes the need for a CBA necessary for the workers.
“If you notice every other essential service, the real reason you can afford to be an essential service is because you have a CBA and you have all these other benefits. Stevedores are not even full time workers but now they are made essential service. They will never have the benefits that all these other essential services have when you look at the different departments that are from government, when you look at things like BEL, BTL, WASA they have CBAs and they have very good benefits stevedores will not have that they are not even respected as employees but they many times and not all of them, but there are mischief makers that play into the hands of management and there will always be challenging unit we always knew that, it was a challenging one when we took over. Our tenure would end and it would still be challenging.
Long after the stevedores have gone back to work, the negotiations that were started last year are still at a standstill.