BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 27, 2020– Friday, July 24, 2020, was the day set for Justice Sonya Young to hear the request for an injunction that had been filed by the Labor Commissioner through the Attorney General against the receivership of the Port of Belize Limited to prevent the company’s termination of 36 of its employees.
By the end of that hearing, both the injunction on the terminations of 36 Port employees and the call for the reinstatement of the employees were denied. Madame Justice Young’s ruling hinged on two factors — the first was that the claim was filed at the eleventh hour, and the second was that the reinstatement of employees was outside the jurisdiction of her court.
Legal representative for the Port of Belize Limited, attorney Godfrey Smith, SC, explained that the terminations had already occurred and the court wouldn’t have been able to enforce a ruling of that nature.
He also stated that the judge explained that it is not the place of the Labour Commissioner to seek reinstatement when they are not a party to the contract of employer and employee.
A party to that hearing was the Christian Workers’ Union, represented by attorney Anthony Sylvestre. He said that all is not lost, and that the next avenue through which they will seek to address the situation is through the Labour Complaints Tribunal, recently instituted by the Minister of Labour.
Sylvestre explained as well that the Labour Act is silent on what could be done when a labourer faces termination, and in fact, it only has post-termination avenues for labourers to take in the face of those terminations.
President of the Christian Workers’ Union, Evan “Mose” Hyde, Jr., says that this hearing, while it would have been helpful to their cause in lowering the temperature (between the union and Port of Belize) was not central to their efforts to address the 10% salary reduction and the claim of redundancy by the Port of Belize (PBL).
Hyde explained that the way forward is continued resistance against the unlawful acts of the PBL, and clarified that the issue of the 10% salary reduction would be an issue going before the courts, and the wrongful terminations will be an issue that would be going to the table of the Labour Complaints Tribunal.