By Ingrid Fernandez, Staff Reporter
An amendment to the Labor Act makes it illegal for stevedores or any worker in the petroleum industry to engage in strive without a notice of 21 days.
The amendment that was made to section two (a) of the Act is entitled: “Settlement in disputes of Essential Services Act Chapter 298 of the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2011”, making the stevedores work an essential service.
The amendment prevents any industrial acts to be taken without giving the government enough time to intervene and prevent any strikes or lockouts.
The stevedores’ strike started over a pension scheme which the workers believed was retroactive and which the management claims never was.
Strikes at the Port of Belize have been threatening multiple times and have caused financial hazards to businesses. Notably, on December 8, the Caribe Navigator sailed back, unloaded, to Miami following a seven hour strike at the Port Authority compound.
Audrey Matura-Shepherd speaking at the Port last week Wednesday, explained that from the beginning, the Port’s management misinformed the workers making vague promises which they had no intentions to keep and which was a momentary solution which backfired in the longer run causing the recent strike.
After months of indecisiveness, on December 11, the stevedores went back to work, with negotiations with management still ongoing.