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Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal delivers ruling on CWU-PBL Trade Dispute

In a late evening press release, the government announced that the Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal has delivered its ruling on the trade dispute between the Christian Workers' Union (CWU) and the Port of Belize Limited (PBL).

According to the release, the Tribunal has called on the parties to "forthwith commence negotiations for payment under the Redundancy Package as agreed between the parties on the 6 March 2020."

The tribunal has also called on PBL "to confirm the primary stevedores as Registered Stevedores." Finally, the tribunal calls on PBL 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."

The release added that PBL is likewise "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."

The Essential Services Arbitration Tribunal was established last July to deliberate and decide on the matters referred to it by Labour Minister Hon. Oscar Requeña.

According to the release, the CWU had written 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).

The CWU's letter stated:

“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.” The tribunal announced that it will follow "its oral ruling today with a written ruling in the coming days."

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.

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