On Monday we told you that Antonio Gonzalez is standing down as president of the Christian Worker’s Union with effect from October 26, when his successor will be chosen at an extraordinary congress of the Union. After a meeting with representatives of the stevedores working at the Port of Belize and the Christian Worker’s Union Tuesday, Mr Gonzalez told reporters he has no hard feelings about his public dispute with the men and women he represents.
Antonio Gonzalez – CWU Leader:
We got together and dialogued, discussed, and we came up that there will be an AGM, or what we call a Convention, on the 26th of October. I know the stevedores are strong. The stevedores have shown they are interested in their union. By going this route, I think that the CWU will be standing firm and steadfast, and protecting their workers and employees.
James McFoy, General Secretary to the Union, said he and Mr Gonzalez conceded the importance of the allegations made against them, without suggesting whether or not he agreed with them.
James McFoy – General Secretary to the Union:
Two weeks ago the stevedores were making some concern over the media. We did not ask to meet the media. We contacted all our members. We did that and we got the green light from them. So we asked for a meeting with some of the area representatives, and they showed up. We explained everything that took place, and we conceded that some of the things that they were concerned about are indeed genuine.
Is it a victory for the stevedores? Not really, says spokesman Deon Pitter, who said afterward that all they wanted, and got, was an opportunity to clean house.
Deon Pitter: [paraphrased]
That’s the way to move forward now. We want to clean up our house, and then we’ll move forward with new blood, and a new spirit. Certain decisions that we will make around the table collectively, not just two individuals, that process will happen.
According to Antonio Gonzalez he believes the CWU’s suspension from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize will be lifted as a result of the organization’s efforts to resolve its internal issues. Mr Gonzalez and James McFoy must now answer for the monies paid in by members. Basil Brannon, chief shop steward at the Central Bank and that group’s representative to the Union, says they are determined to get to the bottom of it all, though he admits it may be a little difficult.
Basil Brannon – Representative:
We [feel] the same as the stevedores, but there’s a process that we have to go through. We just can’t kick someone out. We have to make sure that our finances are in place, and stuff like that, so that’s what we did, and compromise on two months before we move forward, so that we can get the financial in place. We don’t let people resign just like that. We need to let them be accountable for what they’re doing. So we need an audit, and then we’ll move from there.
No timeline has been set for the audit except that it should be completed by the date of the CWU special congress.