Right now at the Bishop Sylvester Memorial Center in Belize City, the Waterfront Workers are meeting with other members of the Christian Workers Union, trying to get their support to rally against union president Antonio Gonzalez. As we've reported, the waterfront workers want him to resign immediately. Gonzalez has agreed to step down after an Annual General Meeting on March 14th, 2014.
Today, the leaders of the waterfront workers told us why they are calling on their fellow CWU members from other organization to push out Pancho:
Raymond Rivers - Waterfront Workers Representative
"This meeting this evening is for us to bring awareness to Central Bank, Social Security, DFC, Banana Growing, Stevedore and all the other organizations that are registered under Christian Workers Union because Mr. Gonzalez has failed to give us a financial report, failed to have election, failed everything but live good from our money. We are sure that he receives approximately $200,000 a year from all the entities and that is what concerns me most of all."
Dion Ras Pitta - Waterfront Workers Representative
"How much members are at Central Bank? How much members are at DFC? How much members are at First Caribbean? How much members are at Social Security and Stevedores? You add that together."
"Over the last 3 years we paid this man over $300,000 to do nothing for us."
"You all have exposed this man and you all have brought him to say that he will not seeking re-election. Can't you be satisfied with that?"
Dion Ras Pitta
"No, that is not satisfied. Satisfaction is when you step down and we put people that will deal with accountability and transparency. When you can give people a report about how their money is being spent then that is trust and this man hasn't done that for over 15 years. So the letter he is taking around and trying to down press the moment, that is 'hogwash'."
"Don't let this man go on the TV and say that Rivers and Pitta want to move him, only two men in this whole country. It's not only us that have all the entities behind us now and later at the meeting you will see the amount of people that come out, if they care. The man did wrong, admitted that he did wrong so he screwed himself. We wanted it easy, so go home with your family and call it off but no he wants to try and fix things that are messed up in the union before he leaves. He wants to fix Port of Belize business before he leaves and we don't want him there because the man is a 'soft pops'. Pitta and I went to this man Friday and we told him 'Mr. Gonz, let me talk to you straight - you told us the day we had the meeting by PSU that you were going to resign'. We told him, yes resign and whatever happens with the union, we will accept and we will build over our Union and he said 'Yes, Mr. Rivers and Pitta - I'm going to resign'. Now he's trying to fight it and I explained to him, if he fights it then he's going to jail because we have lawyers. We are taking our own money to deal with lawyers."
"And if he does not step down by tomorrow?"
Dion Ras Pitta
"We don't even want to think about that, we've talked about our lawyers already."
Today the National Trade Union Congress of Belize sent out a press release confirming that the CWU has been suspended indefinitely because of non participation in NTUCB Activities and non payment of affiliation fees. The CWU has pledged to start paying fees by September , but the press release notes the efforts of the stevedores and says it will quote, "consider all concerns as we work to bring the CWU back under the fold of the NTUCB."
The NTUCB also sent out a statement in support of the restructuring of the Public Accounts Committee.