Christmas stalled, another ship sent back Print E-mail
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Thursday, 10 December 2015 00:00

Stevedores at the Port of Belize, on Wednesday December 9 are once again refusing to unload a ship that has made a port call. The stevedores have taken on this position after negotiations with the management have apparently failed. However it is a matter of who you listen to. According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Port, Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez, the decision was taken in an arbitrary manner while negotiations were ongoing. The Christian Workers Union has taken the position that the workers are fighting to have pensions paid to them.

The Guardian has received a document which indeed proves that there have been negotiations going and in fact these have been signed into an agreement.  The document clearly spells out the terms of a pension fund for the stevedores and says it becomes effective when a Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed. What the document does not say is when that will take place that is, there is no definitive start date to the pension. We are informed that stevedores will begin to make their contribution to the pension program as early as January of next year. But even though that is not spelt out that apparently is the start date. What is missing however is the retroactivity of the pension.

That is now the point of contention between management and the stevedores since the agreement does not state if the pension will be retroactive. For his part Arturo ‘Tux’ Vasquez is now holding on to the position that they port cannot pay for a retroactive pension which the stevedores want to roll back to 2004 when the port was privatized.

Whatever happens now, the bottom line is that Christmas is being stalled by the maneuvering. That means that items that were to have come in for this season are not arriving. One caller to Wave Radio’s Morning Show explained that she will not be able to have a yearly Christmas Party for children in rural areas as toys which were to have arrived on a ship on Monday December 7 had to be sent back as the ship was not unloaded. This is multiplied not only for individuals but also for business houses which also have goods that were returned. One such business is Quality Poultry which was expecting a shipment of turkeys to come in but that too was on the ship and had to be turned back.

If you are wondering why Belize needs to import turkey when we have traditionally produced our own, well it is because of the avian influenza which affected the poultry industry earlier this year and which had producers hold off on the production of turkeys for this season.