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PWLB officially launched

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DPM supports GoB assisting CWU with PBL-related legal costs

HighlightsDPM supports GoB assisting CWU with PBL-related legal costs

Photo: Leonora Flowers, President of the Christian Workers Union (CWU)

BELIZE CITY, Fri. Feb. 16, 2024

Toward the end of January this year, Leonora Flowers, President of the Christian Workers Union (CWU), revealed to Amandala that the Union had incurred about $100,000 in legal fees to fight lawsuits that had been brought by Port of Belize Ltd. (PBL) relating to the stevedores and the Union. One had to do with 8 days of strike that the stevedores went on in January 2022. PBL sought special damages of $1,034,403 for losses it says it incurred due to the strike which they classified as illegal. The other legal matter had to do with a lawsuit that PBL brought against the Government. It ultimately led to the freezing of over $400,000 which was left to be disbursed from a $1.5 million ex gratia payment by Government to stevedores for any prejudice they suffered due to the 2002 privatization of the port.

Flowers revealed that they had paid off the legal costs incurred, but it left the Union broke. She shared that, while they were grateful that the lawsuits fell away when the Government bought back the port, there was no consideration about the costs they incurred. She commented, “It was such a good feeling to be able to clear those costs, but also a bad feeling that we were not able to get costs.” The Union in January wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in which it highlighted that “CWU did not cause this on itself. This was brought upon us, and we had to defend, and so we incurred costs along the way, and we would like for you to subsidize us those costs, to refund us those costs.”

Today, Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde indicated that the matter has not been tabled in Cabinet, but that he would support GoB assisting stevedores. He emphatically stated, “You know I will support whatever benefits the stevedores. The stevedores are Southside legacy. They are our great manhood. These are folks who have represented the best of our communities and they have gotten a raw deal over the years, particularly in the past. And we are hopeful that with the acquisition of the port, those things will change – that ultimately, the stevedores will be able to work and live with a level of dignity that they deserve.” Hyde concluded, “Of course! I would support that in a heartbeat.”

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