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Leader of the Opposition walks fine line between support for potential cruise port and backing justice for stevedores following meeting with trade unions

Posted: Monday, May 22, 2023. 1:15 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow met this week separately with the executive of the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) and National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), the umbrella organization of trade unions in Belize.

As part of their wide-ranging discussion of national issues important to both sides, Barrow spoke up on behalf of the stevedores and the enforcement or lack thereof of the result of the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal (ESAT) issued last year, which has gone past the 30-day limit as the Port of Belize Limited insisted the decision was wrong but did not file an appeal.

Barrow said the situation was “a mockery” and compared it with the recent introduction of sugar industry amendment legislation which he said essentially forced BSI/ASR to pay the cañeros of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) premiums which they do not control.

Later, he tried to differentiate the management of the Port of Belize Limited “in receivership” from Waterloo Enterprises Limited, which is the concern seeking to upgrade cargo services and introduce a cruise port. While he supports the latter, he argues, he can also support the CWU against the former: “I do support the Waterloo investment; it has nothing to do with PBL as far as the facts that I know. PBL is PBL – the receivership…I met with the CWU [on Thursday]; you can ask me about that meeting. They did not ask me for anything, they did not ask the Opposition for anything other than their priority issue which is the enforcement of the ESAT. They did not say, “Oh, Leader of the Opposition, you can’t come and meet us because you’ve gone on record as supporting Waterloo.” He added that he will do “what is right, when it is right.”

Barrow put on the record that he believes the stevedores should have been paid the funds the Government voted last year and that those funds should not have been frozen and that he believes the stevedores were made redundant by the switch of sugar exports to Big Creek that happened last year and should be compensated for that.

 

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