BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 9, 2018– “Although I have never been a card-carrying union member, I have always, unapologetically, been a unionist at heart. I heartily thank members of the CWU, who through their votes this afternoon, have expressed their confidence in my abilities to take this union to the next level — not just for members, but for Belize”, said Evan “Mose” Hyde, Jr. today, Saturday, at the Bishop Memorial Center after he was elected president of the Christian Workers Union at its annual general meeting.
Hyde added, “I pledge to be with my members and other unionists every step of the way as we strive in the days ahead to do what is necessary to make CWU the powerful force members, and indeed, Belize requires.”
Hyde captured 75 percent of the votes cast in the three-way race for the union’s top post. He defeated Wilmore Staine, who received 72 votes, and longtime community activist, Moses Sulph, who received 39 votes. Hyde was elected president with a whopping 328 votes, most of which were cast via proxy.
The election was supervised by the Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Francisco Zuniga, who said at the end of the process that only two votes were spoilt.
The guest speaker for the AGM was attorney Lisa Shoman, a former senator and foreign minister, who is also a human rights activist.
In her remarks, Shoman noted that unionists have played important roles in the advancement of Belizean workers, and hence our economic and political development. She highlighted that the focus of her advocacy has been children and women. She said that men need to better appreciate the tremendous contributions women make to the country’s development, and should afford them opportunities at leadership positions to deepen and broaden the impact of all they do to make Belize a better place for all residents. Shoman also lamented that no woman was contesting any of the vacant posts on the CWU executive board.
Hyde, as CWU president, is joined on the CWU executive board by the First Vice President, Elias Heredia; Second Vice President, Clyde Young; and Trustee, James Neal, all of whom secured their posts unopposed, said a CWU press release on Saturday, April 7.
In an interview with Amandala, the newly elected CWU president said that he was drawn to the union through his long friendship with Deon “Ras” Pitter, a stevedore and employee of Krem TV, which is managed by Hyde.
Amandala asked Hyde if a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that the stevedores have been without for a long time, will be one of the areas where he will focus his union’s energies.
Hyde said that he is hopeful that it will be considered a priority on the part of the union and the Port of Belize.
“We deem it to be unjust for those important workers who have been deemed an essential service by an eleventh-hour legislation—if they are essential, then they are to be treated with respect,” he said.
CWU, apart from representing the workers at Central Bank and Belize Social Security Board, also represents the sanitation workers at the Belize City Council and the Belmopan City Council. Amandala asked Hyde how he would handle the situation if workers are laid off from the Belize City Council due to the change in administration at City Hall.
“The position has to be represented by law, and what is required by law, and what workers’ rights represent by law. Everything that is outside of that are things that will be challenged,” Hyde declared.
Amandala asked the CWU president what is his biggest priority right now.
“My message right now will be that the internal strength of the union right now will be based on how many of its members buy into the whole idea of unionism and solidarity, and what solidarity is. So it is to spread that message, and to get as widespread a buy-in to that concept as possible. That makes the union strong and gives it an opportunity to best serve the workers. I have described it as efficient selfishness —the consciousness that ‘I do better for myself by being part of a strong unit’,” Hyde said.
Senator Elena Smith, the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU)’s national president, sent a congratulatory note, saying: “BNTU congratulates CWU on its AGM. We also wish to congratulate Bro. Mose Hyde on his election to the post of President of CWU and wish him and the union well.”
The BNTU note also thanked “NTUCB, APSSM and BWU for the solidarity messages sent to us on the occasion of our 48th Annual Convention,” and ended saying, “We also express gratitude to Sis. Dareth, President, PSU and Bro. Lewis, President, SWU, for attending our Opening Ceremony and delivering their solidarity messages.”