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Marty Offline OP
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With all stevedores now out on strike, the hands of the management at the Port of Belize Limited are tied. One ship docked since Thursday morning is still waiting to be unloaded, but could simply leave without leaving its cargo for the local market.� Additional ships are scheduled for the weekend, but there will likely be no stevedores to unload them either. C.E.O. Lane says whether or not they will wait around is unknown.

Andy Lane, C.E.O., Port of Belize Limited

"I mean, first of all, the ship "Tropic Mist", arrived here at nine o'clock yesterday morning and it is still here and it will probably sail without any cargo being exchanged. So, that means that import containers that were ordered for Belize's supply chain will go back to the U.S. We have some more ships lined up for the weekend. I don't know how patient those ship operators will be. They might divert the ships somewhere else. They might wait. They might go back where they came from.� That has to be their choice. Again, I am very sorry for the inconvenience that our ship operators and the agents are experiencing here. It is very unfortunate and very regrettable."

Channel 5

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No Goods In or Out: Strike at Port of Belize Continues

Operations at the Port of Belize remain at a standstill. The stevedores continue their industrial action and say it will continue until the company yields to their demand for sugar compensation. While the Port and the stevedores clash, it is the consumers who stand to be most affected with this interruption to the supply chain. News Five's Paul Lopez was at the port this morning.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Allison Craig, Stevedore, Port of Belize Limited

"This is our last stand here, if we don't stand here today that means we all going to be in trouble."

Stevedores like Allison Craig have been on strike since Thursday of last week, bringing operations at the Port of Belize to a complete halt.

Allison Craig, Stevedore, Port of Belize Limited

"At this time, we supposed to be, we have about four ships this week. The reason is, as you see, we in this situation here. Eena my mind, I think it is the right thing to do, because like I explained to you earlier, the end wah be real bad, because now deh wah have you how they want and you wah have to yield to whatever they say and do whatever they say."

This morning, C.E.O. at the Port of Belize, Andy Lane informed News Five that at least three ships have either bypassed the port or taken alternate routes since Wednesday.� On Friday, C.E.O. Lane explained the far reaching effects of the delay.

Andy Lane, C.E.O., Port of Belize Limited

"I have a number of messages hitting my mailbox from exporters concern that their products will not be shipped as expected, which means that they will be delayed to their destination, and that would cause problems overseas, and that will cause importers overseas to question, do we really want to import Belizeans products which are volatile in terms of getting here? In terms of getting supplies, groceries, essentials on the stores of the Supermarkets, the Port is shut down, nothing can get into the country, and how much stock and inventory do these people carry? How long will it be before supplies start running out?"

As for Stevedore Craig, he and his colleagues are prepared for the long haul.

Allison Craig, Stevedore, Port of Belize Limited

"As long as it takes, as long as it takes, remember this is our last stand. It doesn't matter what it takes, or how long it takes, all the way."

In the meantime, the C.E.O. is apologizing to those expecting containers of stock for the local market or those intending to fill them with their product and send them to international markets.

Andy Lane, C.E.O., Port of Belize, Limited

"I am very, very sorry for the inconvenience that our ship overstoring customers and the agents are experiencing here. It is very unfortunate and very regrettable."

Four Ships Waiting in Harbor During Blockade

We reached out to Belize Port Authority for comment. Major Gilbert Swaso, the Port Commissioner, acknowledged the delay in the supply chain caused by the impasse.� First, he apologizes to all those stakeholders affected, including Belizeans who may soon see a shortage of certain imported items at the supermarkets.

Major Gilbert Swaso, Port Commissioner, Belize Port Authority

"First and foremost, kindly allow me to apologize on behalf of the Minister, the Chairman and the management and staff at Belize Port Authority, to all the stakeholders that are involved in this issue, because, as you may be aware, this is an issue of national, vital importance. So it is that we are deeply concerned about the impasse at this time. And, let me state that it has significantly impacted the country, because the supply line, particularly to Belize City, the use of the port at the Port of Belize Limited is at this time closed. And, that is definitely has created a blockage of the supply chain and certainly will have serious economic, negative economic implications. At this time, we have several vessels that have returned without them being unloaded, or loaded. Currently, there are at least four ships that are in harbor waiting for the services from the Port of Belize Limited. This certainly includes the services of the stevedores at this time."

B.C.C.I. Says 700 Containers Won't Reach Destination

In their statement, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry also noted the current impasse will result in severe impacts to households, firms, and the government. The release highlighted the fact that consumer goods and goods used in local manufacturing account for twenty -eight percent and thirty- eight percent of Belize's import respectively. This then puts a burden on local factories as they are at risk of not supplying their local and foreign customers on time. The release noted that the current standoff between both parties will result in zero imports and exports via P.B.L. this week, or an estimated seven hundred containers failing to reach their final destinations. We will continue to follow.

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Shelves in stores in San Pedro Town are getting empty. Shop owners are saying that their cargoes are stuck at port and can't be offloaded.


No Resolution To Port Standoff

The situation out in the Port of Belize remains at a stalemate tonight with ships having to either remain idle in harbour, turn back, or go to Big Creek to be unloaded.

According to a notice to shippers from PBL's CEO, Andy Lane, the Belize Port Authority met with the Christian Workers Union this morning at BPA's headquarters. In the statement, Lane said he hoped that the port would be back in operation at least by midday.

But at 11:30 this morning, the CWU president, Evan "Mose" Hyde told us that there were no updates to report as yet. We are told he had to meet with their attorney before going back to relay the message to their membership.

In Lane's statement, he details what the next steps would look like once they returned back to work, and the ships that would need to be unloaded or reloaded first. However, that didn't happen today and for some ships, like the Oslo Bulk 4, which contains fertilizing material, they just have to sit it out and wait because they cannot go to Big Creek.

And many others are in the same situation, waiting for their supplies and commodities that are stuck on the ships. For shipping companies, that has translated to a world of stress. One freight service, Belizean Queen Freight, took to Facebook to tell their customers that the vessel carrying their January 10th containers had to return to the US on the 24th. That means that that shipment will not be able to clear customs until at least the week of February 7th.

Additionally, no other vessels will be able to sail or dock this week. And even if the issue is sorted out this week, Belizean Queen Freight says it will create a backlog of supplies that the country needs, which will lead to a delay in deliveries in the second week of February.

The stevedores, however, had hoped to get a verdict out of today's meetings at 6pm. We'll keep following to let you know.

Channel 7

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Port Strike in 7th Day; Shipping Agents Shifting to Big Creek

The standstill at the Port of Belize Limited is now in its seventh day. Some ships have already turned back, causing importers to activate contingency plans.� Shipping agents are looking to their only alternative, the Big Creek Port in Independence Village. But where the Port of Belize Limited offers proximity to many of its clients, using Big Creek means trucking containers much further, potentially driving up costs for consumers.� News Five's Paul Lopez reports.

Jody Williams, Sales and Marketing Director, Marie Sharp

"If we don't sell, we can't pay our farmers, we can't pay our workers. We have eighty farmers that produce pepper for us, ten farmers that produce fruits for us that we do our jams; we have close to ninety employees at the factory. We work with trucking companies that has to truck our goods to the Port and back. They have their mortgages to pay, their loans to pay, and they are saying this doesn't come to an end soon they will not be able to meet payment."

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Marie Sharps Fine Food Limited has their eyes on the Big Creek Port as an alternative to ship their products and to receive operations goods.

Jody Williams

"I know right now there have been talks about shifting; some of the agents have been talking about shifting some of these boats to the Big Creek. It is extra cost, but sometimes we might have to take that extra cost because having our shipments out there at sea not coming to the Belize Port and just there, the ship won't stay there and park there. They have a schedule to actually make. So, if the imports don't come off the ship, they have to go back with the containers, and it will cost us the importers, even person bringing in vehicle parts, medical supplies, everyone is affected by this if it goes back to Miami, it will cost us double or more than if we divert these shipments to the Big Creek Port."

Ruy Martinez, Regional Commercial Director at A.S.R/ B.S.I says vessel agents have noted with great concern the repetitive nature of the disputes at the Port of Belize Limited. Those vessels are beginning to look to the Big Creek Port.

Ruy Martinez, Regional Commercial Director, A.S.R./B.S.I.

"This is the first time I have actually seen the vessel agents, some of them not all of them, rumor and talk a lot more about we got to start looking at a contingency plan. Do we go and start calling Big Creek, maybe not a hundred percent, but latest on a consistent base? How much times to we call, because we need to have a contingency plan. There might be a moment where there is really no, that is something that is, that should worry us of all. Even with the container exports, we are growing our container exports because of the DC production, so all of that is going through Port of Belize. If the container lines stop calling Port of Belize and start calling Big Creek, that is going to force us to also have follow where they follow. We have to there is no way."

And this morning, Prime Minster John Brice�o confirmed that ships are already moving to Big Creek Port until the labor dispute is resolved.

Prime Minister John Brice�o

"Yes, it is affecting everyone because the cost of good will go up, because if the ships cant offload then by the time it does the cost of those containers will go up, and it will eventually reach to all of us. So, yes it is affecting everyone. We are just urging CWU and the Port to sit down and talk, and not just point fingers at one another and try to find a compromise so that we can move forward. But, I do know what will be happening now is that more and more ships will be going down south until this is resolved."

Belizean Queen Freight Services informed its customers via social media that one ship actually returned to the US on Monday with all their cargo, while a smaller one has been allowed to dock at the Port in Southern Belize with its containers.

Ruy Martinez

"In previous times, some people at their corporate in Germany or France say, aren't their other ports. I have seen the emails. They say, let's look at, and the regional people that sit in either Brazil, or Miami, or Mexico, they say no that is not a contingency. This is the first time that I have seen them say, you know what maybe we should look at a contingency."

The distance from Southern Belize to Belize City will increase the cost of local goods in the supermarkets, forcing prices up.

Via Phone: Billy Musa Jr., Director, Brodies Supermarket

"We would have to get the truckers to get the containers from there, and truck it from Big Creek to our warehouses in town. So, that will be an additional inland freight charge that obviously will have to be added into the costing of our goods."

GOB Proposes Compromise for Port Impasse

In an attempt to loosen the logjam at Port of Belize Limited brought on by the striking stevedores, the Minister responsible for Logistics, Michel Chebat has reportedly been in conversation with both P.B.L. and the C.W.U. Reports are that the Government of Belize has proposed a compromise to the union and the P.M. says a response is expected soon. He was not prepared to disclose the details of the proposition however.

Prime Minister John Brice�o

"What we are doing is that we have been, the minister has been engaged with the stevedores and talking to them, and trying to find an end to the impasse, and also then to try to find a long term solution to the issues the stevedores have been facing for quite some time now."


"They are disappointed in you because they believe you would have intervened in the way you intervened with the cane farmers and BSI in the north."

Prime Minister John Brice�o

"Well, they never did call me to ask me if I can help. I have met with them before. I have met with them in October and also in November, and then Mr. Chebat has been dealing with them directly from last week. So, we have not stepped back. We have been working with them closely to try to find a compromise. But, a compromise means, not just your way, but both sides have to give in to find a compromise. So, the CWU also has to find a way that they can come to some kind of compromise in some of their demands. We also reached out to the President of the C.W.U. this morning, Evan "Mose" Hyde, who informed us that there was nothing to report at that time."

Channel 5

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Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal Delivers Ruling on Trade Dispute

Today, the Essential Services Arbitration delivered the following decisions on the trade dispute between the Christian Workers Union and the Port of Belize Limited:

1. The Port of Belize Limited is directed to forthwith confirm the primary stevedores as Registered Stevedores;

2. The Port of Belize Limited is directed to promote the 28 Secondary Substitutes to Primary Substitutes and invite them to participate in Port of Belize Limited's insurance scheme as from the 27 January 2022. Further the Port of Belize Limited is directed to pay their share of contributions to the retirement savings for the 28 stevedores from the 13 July 2021 being the date when the dispute was brought to the attention of the Minister; and

3. That the parties forthwith commence negotiations for payment under the Redundancy Package as agreed between the parties on the 6 March 2020.

The Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal was established on July 28, 2021, to deliberate and decide on a trade dispute matter referred to it by Hon. Oscar Requena, minister responsible for labour.

The Christian Workers Union (the Union) wrote, pursuant to section 15 of the Settlement of Disputes in Essential Services Act, Chapter 298 Laws of Belize revised edition 2011 (the Act) invoking 21 days' notice by its members who work at the Port of Belize Ltd (PBL) to take industrial action against the Port of Belize Ltd (PBL). Below is an extract of the letter:

� "Despite various attempts, including with the involvement of your Ministry, a number of outstanding matters between CWU and PBL remain unresolved. Included in these matters are the redundancy package for Stevedores with the move of bulk sugar exports from the Belize City Harbour to the Port of Big Creek, filling of the Container Gangs and a date to resume stalled negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for PBL staff."

Since the notice of dispute, the Labour Department has played a pivotal role in transitioning the matter through respectful dialogue and mediation to the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal.

The Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal will follow its oral ruling today with a written ruling in the coming days. The Labour Department thanks the parties and the members of the Tribunal for their work and active participation in this important quasi-judicial process.

The members of the Tribunal are:

Mr. William Lindo - Chair, nominated by the Minister
Mr. Fermin Olivera - nominated by the Minister
Mr. Wilfredo Galvez - nominated by the Minister
Mr. Marcello Blake - nominated by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Mr. Hubert Enriquez - nominated by the National Trade Union Congress of Belize


Acting PM Speaks on Shipping Crisis

This morning, we got a chance to speak with Deputy Prime Minister Cordel Hyde on the topic at another event. As we told you last night, PM John Briceno is in Honduras and Hyde is Acting PM. We asked him for his views on the stand-off between the Port of Belize and the CWU - which, of course, is led by his brother Mose Hyde:

Hon. Cordel Hyde - Acting Prime Minister
" You know, it's a really difficult situation. These are issues that are longstanding, and so they're very tense. It's pretty much a face-off, and I don't think you ever reached this point lightly. Nobody takes this lightly because everybody loses. The stevedores are losing wages. The company is losing business. Customers - consumers are waiting on their stuff. Businesspeople are lamenting the extra costs that they may incur. So, nobody really wins in this. The job of the government is to try to ensure that everybody wins, you know. I think that we've taken a really solid approach to the process. I think we started from an Orange Walk with the cane farmers and the BSI/ASR face-off, where I think we were involved and hands-on, and we tried to function in a peaceful atmosphere, where tensions did not reach where they could have reached. So I think that in this particular situation, the present Minister of the Ports is actively engaged, actively shuttling between the two sides. And as I said, I'm an eternal optimist and I believe that I'm hopeful that something will get sorted out pretty soon."

Channel 7

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