BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 3, 2020– After weeks of an arduous process involving proposals and counter-proposals, as well as industrial action, the stevedores of the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize Limited have finally signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). On Sunday, August 2, 2020, representatives of the two entities, along with the Labour Department, convened at Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza to sign their first CBA in sixteen years, which took effect immediately and is valid for the next three years.
This agreement was arrived at after a series of extensive meetings that began on Thursday, July 30. The negotiations were headed on the stevedores’ behalf by the president of the CWU, Evan “Mose” Hyde, along with a number of stevedores and attorney Anthony Sylvestre.
Negotiations on the Port’s behalf was headed by lead negotiator, attorney Godfrey Smith, Senior Counsel, in conjunction with Port CEO Arturo Vasquez and other PBL officers. Thanks to the signing of this new agreement, the stevedores can finally return to work effective today, Monday, August 3.
Both the GOB and CWU have issued statements to announce the signing of the new CBA. The CWU expressed hopes that “the outcome of the intense Stevedore negotiations augers well for the impending negotiations on behalf of PBL staff, who form a separate bargaining unit of the union.” Those negotiations are set to commence on Tuesday, August 4, and will have an impact on the prospects of the 36 PBL employees who had been terminated by the PBL.
While there seems to be hope that the matter will be resolved soon, the members of the CWU have not abandoned their commitment to take industrial action if necessary. On Monday a drove of supporters of the union took to the streets in a peaceful protest that began in front of the Port of Belize and ended in a rally at the Fort George Memorial Park.