BELMOPAN, Wed. Oct. 10, 2018– Senator Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, has offered Dr. Carla Barnett, the Minister of Labour, an enlightened solution for the ongoing dispute between the Christian Workers Union (CWU) and Port of Belize Limited (PBL).
Port of Belize is presently attempting to reduce stevedores’ take home pay by preventing extended shifts on legal grounds. PBL is arguing on the basis of Sections 115 to 118 of the Labour Act. The stevedores are resisting because a status quo exists in this matter from time immemorial, and they will lose money because of PBL’s “humanitarian” demands.
Senator Peyrefitte wrote Dr. Barnett on Wednesday, October 10, to point out that the “Minister of Labour, pursuant to Section 119(2) of the Labour Act, is allowed to make exemptions in relation to the provision of Sections 115, 116 and 118.”
Senator Peyrefitte continues: “I am informed that the dispute between PBL and the stevedores is not a financial issue for PBL but rather a legal issue. Therefore, I take it that the PBL would have no difficulty in agreeing to have the Minister make an exception for stevedores pursuant to the Section 119. I advise therefore that the Minister is empowered to make the exception in this case as it relates to stevedores.”
He concludes by insisting: “My emphasis is that since it is purely a legal issue for PBL and not a financial issue that the PBL would fully support the issuance of an order under Section 119 (2). This would allow the stevedores to work the hours they want and at the same time absolve the PBL of any legal liability as it relates to hours worked.”