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Christian Workers’ Union to strike over Port of Belize refusing to negotiate sugar award

Posted: Friday, June 9, 2023. 6:47 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: General Secretary of the Christian Workers’ Union Floyd Neal has written to Labour Minister Oscar Requeña invoking 21 days’ notice of industrial action against the Port of Belize Limited (PBL), owing to the “live trade dispute” surrounding the January 27, 2022 ruling of the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal (ESAT) ordering negotiations on terms of payment previously agreed in March of 2020.

The CWU and Port of Belize have been at odds concerning the alleged redundancy of stevedores with respect to the sugar industry, which has moved and mechanized its operation at the Port of Big Creek near Independence, Stann Creek District.

In response, the Port’s managers argue that no stevedore has actually been made redundant and that it has borne the losses from the switch by Belize Sugar Industries Limited/American Sugar Refining (BSI/ASR) on its own. But stevedores are to blame, the Port charged, for their “inefficient and unreliable manner” of discharging their duties, and costing the Port BSI/ASRs business which also hurts them.

The Port insists that the Tribunal did not issue the award the CWU claims despite reportedly not appealing their decision and that the CWU’s decision to strike over what it views as a non-existent issue is unreasonable and will lead to further losses and disruptions as the Union’s members “hold the country to ransom.”

Both sides hold open the possibility of further mediation by the Labour Department and Ministry of Labour, though the Port wants them to be more impartial.

 

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