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Progress Made but Stevedores still Prepare for Strike

150 stevedores could walk away from their jobs working on ships in a few days if the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize Limited are unable to settle their differences. It’s been six years of negotiation for a Collective Agreement to cover Stevedores and several union presidents later, the matter of working hours and increments have not been met. With the clock ticking down to possible strike action Love News joined the stevedores outside the Labour Department’s office as they awaited the results of the meeting between the CWU and the Port.

Jose Sanchez: “Since the Port of Belize Ltd. (PBL) had declared an impasse and the Christian Workers Union had given 21 days notice regarding impending industrial action, The Labour Department called both groups to meet at its office in Belize City to stave off a strike. After at least  five hours of discussion CWU president Mose Hyde indicated that there was some progress made regarding increments.”

Mose Hyde: “We were able to get movement on the issue of outstanding salary increases, this has been a big issue for our members. As a matter of goodwill our members approved our counterproposal that says if we are to work for fifteen hours as our ceiling and money is not the issue for the Port that essentially the way you would deal with that is to adjust the rates so that our members net earnings per year is not affected but to figure out what those rates would be when adjusted to work out that final value is going to take some time.”

Jose Sanchez: “PBLCU Arturo Vasquez believes progress has been made and awaits the skeleton of the CWU’s proposal.”

Arturo Vasquez: “One of the remuneration issues about that, there has been in the agreement that there was some remuneration to be had or to be paid. We had paid originally 12,13 and 14. We had paid that then because the understanding was that when we did that in 2012 we had expected a CBA to be signed in 2012 so that’s the reason why three years was paid so you would have expected that after 3 years you would have continued however we all agreed that yes, it was agreed that it would be paid for the life of the agreement which would mean that it would move in to the CBA so yeah I agree to pay the four years and of course it was using that as a negotiating framework by bargaining actually for us to get to at least getting a date from the Union as to when there proposal will be coming to us.”

Mose Hyde: “We are at a position now where until we are comfortable and confident that this process has actually changed and this negotiation has actually changed we are not going to take off the 21 day notice that we have given.”

Jose Sanchez: “It has been 19 days since the Stevadors and the CWU gave notice of possible industrial action, time runs out on Friday. Jose Sanchez for Love News.”

Port of Belize Limited and the Christian Workers Union will meet at the Labour Department on Thursday afternoon to hopefully work out a plan. The negotiation today meant that the PBL will give two payments made to the Stevedores via the CWU regarding back pay and The CWU will also in turn present a counter proposal to the PBL on the 21st of November.