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CWU and Port of Belize to meet after strike

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Wednesday, September 9, 2015. BMG: Stevedores working for the Port of Belize Limited effectively shut down operations between six last evening and this morning until management agreed to meet with them discussing concerns of a pay dispute.

The Port claims in a letter sent to the workers’ representatives, the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU), that Belize Sugar Industries Limited and others were dissatisfied with the stevedores’ productivity, and thus operations would be suspended. The workers responded by threatening to stop their work if they were not paid.

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Audrey Matura Shepherd

Christian Workers Union president Audrey Matura-Shepherd says workers deserved their pay and part of their frustration is that the Port has been dragging its feet on negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement.

The stevedores planned a demonstration for this morning, Thursday, and 9:15there were fifty men present in addition to the gangs working on the waterfront, who halted operations in solidarity. Shortly thereafter, Port CEO Arturo Vasquez called a meeting and conceded to the two demands of the Union: payment outstanding to workers and a re-start of negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement which have been going on for more than a decade.

As to that negotiation process for a new collective bargaining agreement, there is no telling how those will go when both sides come to the table on September 18. But according to Matura-Shepherd what is important is that negotiations are back on.

Vasquez, for his part, says the effect of the go slow was time lost and paying for work not put in.

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