The Stevedores are back at work, but the CWU says all is not well
The estimated 200 containers that sat in Belize’s harbor over the weekend on the MV Aries 056 ship is being offloaded at this hour. We can tell you that this is in no way an indication that the Port of Belize and the Christian Workers Union are back in love. It is a temporary solution to an issue that does not seem to have a resolution in the near future. We last reported on this issue on Friday, when the stevedores claimed they were locked out of the port compound, a claim that the port has since denied. Currently, the Port of Belize seemed to have pulled back in its argument and has allowed the stevedores to use the one-gang one-ship system to unload the Aries. According to one of the stevedores, the union will continue to fight for negotiations to take place over monies lost when the sugar ships opted to start using the Big Creek Port. The Essential Services Tribunal had ordered that both the Port and the union meet to negotiate a settlement, but to date the Port has decided that it will offer no-payment or compensation for the sugar ships. According to the stevedores, while they did have a gentleman’s agreement some ten months ago, to use the 2-gang 2-ship system, they were forced to revert back to the old system as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The reversion was the stevedores’ way of getting the Port’s attention and to have them come to the negotiating table over the sugar compensation. It is anybody’s guess what will happen when the next ship comes in, but we can tell you that the stevedores did unload the wheat boats over the weekend, and that Gang Number Five is currently working at the port offloading the Aries cargo ship. The Christian Workers Union is having a press conference tomorrow morning, and we will be bringing an update on their position in tomorrow’s newscast.