Posted: Tuesday, October 3, 2023. 11:38 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Christian Workers Union (CWU) has maintained that its stevedoring membership is owed substantial sums for the decision of Belize Sugar Industries Limited-American Sugar Refining (BSI-ASR) to relocate its operations to Big Creek in Independence, Stann Creek District.
But even after the matter was determined by the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal (ESAT) in 2021, the Port of Belize Limited continues to insist that as stevedores were not let go, there exists no redundancy of service to pay for.
An appeal is to be determined this week according to the Union, who spoke to the press on Monday.
It is part of what CWU President Leonora Flowers on Monday said was a pattern of disrespect and provocation: “When the ESAT determined in 2021 that they should pay the stevedores, that they should negotiate an award to the stevedores, even to date that has not been done. This is a total of twenty months and they have not adhered to that decision. Instead, they said they did not understand it, there was no award, there is no loss, there is no loss of people. We lost income on this side of the table, our members have lost the opportunity to earn income when sugar went to Big Creek and that is what the ESAT decision said at that time.”
A few weeks ago, CWU attorney Darrell Bradley confirmed that the Tribunal settled the question of jurisdiction before proceeding to a full hearing on the appeal concerning its 2021 decision.
Like Flowers, Bradley believes the Port should stop stalling and come to the table: “And this is one of the things again, you should have a spirit of compliance. If there’s a ruling that’s made, the ruling should be complied with.”
But he does further advise that industrial action should be avoided on this matter while it is before the Tribunal: “…what the law says is that if there is a process, this is one of the things that was raised. If there is a process, then the process is to go before the tribunal. And what that does is that that acts as a limitation on persons going to strike. It’s the Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act. So if you’re before the tribunal, then you can’t go on strike.”
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