BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 15, 2020– There is another stand-off between the Christian Workers Union (CWU) ), whose president is Evan “Mose” Hyde and the Port of Belize Limited (PBL)), whose CEO is Arturo “Tux” Vasquez.
This time, the stand-off is over a proposal by PBL to reduce the salaries of CWU members in order to offset the company’s COVID-19 financial difficulties.
The stand-off began last week when the CWU rejected the PBL’s salary deduction proposal. PBL was asking the CWU members to share the economic pain that the company is presently experiencing. PBL had proposed cutting CWU members’ salaries by 10 percent.
The decision by the CWU to reject the PBL management’s proposal to cut salaries was made after a majority of its members voted against the proposal.
The PBL apparently went on a public relations offensive, painting the CWU as “unfair and the consensus of its members illegitimate.”
Today, in a press release captioned, “CWU sets the record straight,” the union fired back, blasting the PBL receivership for “fictionalizing” itself in the public’s view.
The CWU press release said that, “CWU cannot leave this wholly inaccurate representation of PBL’s record unchallenged for fear that it might actually be viewed as truthful.”
The release went on to explain, “First of all, the union was not invited to a discussion; our representatives were basically provided with the details of a decision that had already been made, without any input or consultation. The union was then expected to inform our members of the decision.”
The CWU release pointed to the inadequate Collective Bargaining Agreement, which it says is repeatedly being violated, and it noted that PBL had made no effort for over two decades to re-negotiate the CBA with the union, despite the union’s efforts.
“PBL only counter-proposed after our members used the option of last resort, industrial action. The counter-proposal that was sent is another story. To put it in a nutshell, PBL seems to be committed to taking away many of the present benefits and essentially rejecting all the union’s proposals that represented progress for our members. This was before any COVID-19 pandemic,” the press release said.
The release ended adding, “It’s only natural, therefore, that our members don’t accept that it is fair to cut their salaries by ten percent without the disclosure of the company’s financials. It is very likely that our members have already made their COVID-19 sacrifices before it even existed as a challenge, if the company cannot comply with this CBA requirement and justify the noncompliance with the 5% bonus.
“CWU understands the unique challenges of this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that the union will be in the business of giving out passes to management without due diligence and without our members being treated respectfully. There will be no blind faith in the words of comfort from a management that doesn’t have a history of being trustworthy or respectful.”
“Every penny matters, now more than ever. Every penny that is being threatened to be taken away from our members has to be justified by the union’s financial consultant, confidentially and fairly. This is the unanimous position of 64 out of our 80 members, who were present last Thursday to vote,” the CWU said.
Feature photo: (l-r) Arturo “Tux” Vasquez and Evan “Mose” Hyde