The CWU says it feels jilted and jaded
The stevedores are back in limbo after the Port of Belize Limited reportedly misled the Christian Workers Union into thinking that negotiations would take place by order of the Essential Services Tribunal. The two parties met on May 11, 2023, and a gag order was placed on media interviews. Since then, however, the impasse has continued and the union is upset, saying that they feel jilted and jaded. Speaking on the issue was the CWU’s special advisor, Evan Mose Hyde.
Evan Mose Hyde, CWU Special Advisor: “We had anything to say on the matter. We had indicated to you guys in the media that we were unable to really say anything much. We explained that there were certain deadlines and so what I want to do is just to kind of go back to that moment to say that that meeting came out of a letter written to us from PBL in which they indicated that they were willing to get around the table to comply with the ESAT ruling. And so as you can expect we were very encouraged by that and we had a certain level of expectations that we would actually start to have a meaningful dialogue. That meeting was held at the Biltmore as you guys would recall and immediately unfortunately once the meeting started which at the time that meeting was coordinated and we had the presence of the full team from the ministry of labor we had a scenario where it would appear, it appeared to us that PBL management had no interest in complying with the letter that they wrote to us the day before. So they invited us to come and negotiate according to the ESAT but then once we got there they changed their mouth. And we were like well what’s going on? We were a bit puzzled by that. We were like but you wrote a letter have you changed your mind because what’s happening here is not what that letter indicated you would be doing here this morning. The management maintained their position throughout and you in the media would recall that we were leaving that meeting multiple times because our team had to decide whether or not we would even continue with that meeting but as we indicated to the Ministry of Labor because they were present and because we believed that the way we are going to make progress is by actually having a dialogue even though we did not approve of what has happened meaning we have been kind of I mean we got faked out. You said you were gonna come and ESAT and we thought okay cool and then we get there and no it’s not like that.”
Special Advisor Hyde went further to say that even after the meeting, they gave the PBL some time to consult with their people, hoping to get some good news. The good news, however, did not come. Instead, what the union got was the same response as before where the PBL will not give any compensation for the monies lost due to the sugar loading going to the Big Creek Port. Additionally, Hyde says the Port not only refused to budge, but they also challenged the Ministry of Labor. What is most concerning for the union is that there is no indication that the Ministry of Labor will address the non-adherence of the Port of Belize Limited.
Evan Mose Hyde, CWU Special Advisor: “Since that letter has been written we have seen nothing to indicate that they are going to back the directive that they gave in that meeting. So this update that we are giving now is that this is the scenario that we will now go forward to present to our members. We definitely marked the fact that the management has a line drawn in the sand they are not going to comply with the ESAT. We have no indication that the Ministry of Labor is going to up the ante there is nothing coming from them to say that they are going to stand behind what they have directed PBL to do. We are concerned as well by the fact that it’s bewildering to us that this question was somehow prevented from even being introduced into the parliament that of course came on on Friday and we are like we don’t understand how that is not a matter relevant for a parliamentary discussion. And so we are very concerned about oh this matter, the ESAT ruling, is going to be backed up. We can’t look for any other choice at this point in time except to go to our members to lay out the matter in front of them and have them give us a consensus marching order because that is where we are now. We only come forward to speak because now our commitment to sit around a table and negotiate has been treated with great disdain, has been treated with disrespect. No willingness to legitimately resolve these issues. And so it’s a part of our responsibility to come now to the public to say this is where we are on this matter. We have met with the representatives from the chamber of commerce and again we want to thank them for taking the time out to come to our office to hear.”
The union has also met recently with the Leader of the Opposition and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry.