The fight between the employees of the Port of Belize who members of
the Christian Workers Union and the Port's Senior management is about
to become more heated and contentious. That's after the Management has
declared its intent to lay off 29 of its members who are on staff.
Those 29 are among 36 workers that the Port says it can no longer
afford to employ. According to the CWU, the official reason is
redundancy, and the management says that the COVID-induce economic
crisis continues to devastate their revenue source.
The Union is interpreting this decision as an act of retaliation for
the lunchtime protests that its members have been engaging in since
last week Wednesday. As viewers are aware, the Port has implemented a
10% reduction in their salaries, and they say that the management
should not be allowed to make such a unilateral and arbitrary decision.
So, the union invoked a 21-days notice of its intent to strike under
the labour laws to challenge the salary reduction.
And, now, they say that this sudden decision to terminate these 36
workers is calculated to demoralize and intimidate the angry union
members who have been protesting the 10% pay cut.
This afternoon, we spoke with CWU President, Evan "Mose" Hyde about the
spike in tensions between the two sides at the Port. Here's what he had
Evan "Mose" Hyde - President, CWU
"We're not in a good place, obviously the company has decided that in out
view that is going to put a full frontal assault on the unionized members
at the port. They sent us a list of 36 workers that they want to get rid
of, 29 of those 36 happen to be union members and we don't think that is a
coincidence in the middle of trying to resolve the very flawed process and
the very illegal process of taking 10% out of the work's pockets without
consent. In the middle of trying to resolve that, get due process for that,
they've decided to launch frontal attack on the members who are standing up
which they have a right to do. It's not a good day at the port and it's not
a good day in Belize and that's the point we have sent out to both
international and local umbrella organisations."
"Tell us about the reasons they've provided in this letter for why these 30
plus employees need to be laid off."
Evan "Mose" Hyde
"They are claiming that they have lost half their revenue, that's what
they are claiming. We have not seen any documents to back that up and
that's the point we were making about the 10%, so it's a whole process
when you put forward an argument of redundancy in this event you cannot
circumvent the requirement to provide documentation, it's something you
can do if you are a shameless corporate entity where you can deny your
members right to transparency when you are deducting their monies but
you cannot do that when you are using the labour law for redundancy
argument, an act of god, which is the argument they are giving, it's an
act of god and so they need to get rid of our members. We don't believe
that it will be a just day, we believe that there is an element of what
is called shock doctrine where you are trying to take advantage of a
genuine crisis and trying to opportunistically get certain things
accomplished, one of which apparently, is to rid yourself of the union
presence on the compound because it's a numbers game you see. If you
get rid of 29 union members, you have brought us very near to the
threshold of being legitimately in place as a bargaining agent, it's as
diabolical as is it clever."
According to the CWU President, the proposed layoff of these 36
employees is supposed to take effect by next Wednesday.
The President says that they are taking advice from a team of
attorneys: Anthony Sylvestre, Michelle Trapp, and Greg Choc, who have
come to the union's aid in resisting the impending termination.