The Ministry of Labour hereby informs that the industrial action has come to an end. The stevedores began to protest on Monday, March 2, 2020, and continued with a strike by the staff of Port of Belize on Wednesday, March 4, 2020.
On March 4th, Minister of State for Labour, Dr. Hon. Carla Barnett met with representatives of the Christian Workers Union (CWU) and the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) as a result of industrial action being undertaken by the two bargaining units represented by the CWU at the Port.
Of highest concern to the stevedores was the possible shifting of shipments - particularly the shipment of raw sugar - from the Port of Belize to Big Creek and the significant impact that would have on their earnings, if it ever happened. Of highest concern to the staff of PBL was the lack of progress towards concluding a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the existing agreement which has been in place for over 17 years.
During the meeting PBL and CWU came to a number of agreements in principle. Today, March 6th, both groups and the Minister of State for Labour signed a summary of those agreements (as per attached) and committed to doing what is necessary to ensure the smooth development and implementation of these agreements.
The CWU served 21 daysí notice on March 5, 2020, under the Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act that it is prepared to return to industrial action if the negotiations do not proceed apace. The Ministry stands ready to support the ongoing negotiation process, cognizant of the need for both sides to work together to develop better industrial relations as they move ahead. The Ministry of Labour thanks PBL and CWU for the progress made thus far and encourages both to continue, in earnest, in the days ahead.
The Ministry is therefore pleased to confirm for all stakeholders, both local and international, that operations at the Port of Belize returned to normal at 1:00 p.m. today, March 6th.
The Minister gives her unequivocal commitment to continue working with both PBL and CWU to ensure that the agreements reached are upheld for the mutual benefit of all concerned.