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 to say:

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."

Daniel Ortiz

"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.

Channel 7