3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliate in Belize is the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB).

Belize ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 1983 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1983.

In practice

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Minister declares the Port of Belize an essential service, in violation of ILO Convention 8718-10-2018

The 150 stevedores employed at the Port of Belize Limited (PBL) should have been going on strike on 17 October 2018 when their representative, the Christian Workers Union (CWU), did not reach an agreement with PBL regarding their collective bargaining agreement. Both groups had initially stopped negotiating after PBL had declared an impasse and the CWU’s response was to initiate their intention to strike.
However, PBL workers were prevented from taking industrial action as the Minister of Labour, Dr. Carla Barnett, added ten days to CWU’s notice. She also told the media that the Labour Department was considering arbitration or court petition to resolve the dispute.
Since the adoption of a Statutory Instrument in 2015, the Port Services in Belize became an essential service. As a consequence, workers at the Port of Belize are required to provide a 21 days’ notice before any industrial action can be taken, allowing for early intervention by government into collective disputes. The provisions of the Statutory Instrument are in clear contravention of ILO Convention 87, which protects the right to strike.

CWU members arbitrarily dismissed17-05-2018

The Christian Workers Union (CWU) has been unable to get two recently fired employees of the Belize City Council reinstated. They first wrote a letter to the Council and got no result, and on Tuesday May 15, representatives of the union including the union president, Evan Mose Hyde, and the general secretary, Floyd Neal, were unable to get the council to budge.
In a release to the media, the Belize City Council explained that the meeting took place but that they will not be rehiring the two employees, who are members of the union who were recently fired.
For his part, Hyde has told the media: “We are extremely disappointed with the Council’s decision to deny the request for our members to be reinstated. The union is forced to take our grievances to the Labour Commissioner, to have his intervention on this matter.”

Maintenance workers arrested for staging protest31-01-2015

On Monday 4 August 2014, 43 employees of Belize Maintenance Limited (BML) were held for more than seven hours at the Queen Street Police Station for staging a protest demonstration outside City Hall. The spontaneous protest took place after employees learnt that at least 50 of them would be sent home because BML could not pay them, as the company had not been paid on time by the Belize City Council. The sanitation workers had not received their salaries for 19 weeks.

Those arrested were each charged for taking part in an unlawful public meeting, and a littering violation – they had scattered garbage bags as part of the protest – which would cost them $500 each. Activist Delroy Herrera described how the police had trapped the demonstrators in a blockade on Queen Street and using batons herded them into the station for processing.

Attorneys speaking on behalf of the demonstrators felt that unnecessary force had been used by police. Among those locked up were women with persistent medical conditions who reportedly fainted and suffered without their medication.

Two days later the Prime Minister intervened and decreed that as part of the resolution to the dispute the charges would be dropped. In October the Magistrate’s Court dismissed the charges against the BML workers. The Council paid BML the salary arrears owed, and in January 2015 it integrated 158 BML employees into its own staff.

Ministry of Education attempts to bypass negotiations with unions31-01-2013

The Ministry of Education asked parents to pick up their children from school because teachers would be attending a meeting with Minister of National Security John Saldivar to speak about the issue of a pay increase. At the same time negotiations were on-going with the Belize National Teachers Union, the Association of Public Service Senior Managers and the Public Service Union. This meeting with teachers individually was therefore an attempt to undermine the collective negotiations.

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