Caribbean port strikes

Costa Rican dockers strike 22 October 2014

A docker strike on the island of Martinique, started on October 20, 2014 at the main port in Fort-de-France, is over the health and safety risks of siting an industrial-waste processing plant at the port. The strike at two ports in Costa Rica, Puerto Moín and Puerto Limón (pictured), began on October 25 over privatization of the terminals by Dutch firm APM (a subsidiary of Maersk).

Strike on Martinique
Started 20 October 2014

Background: in the midst of the world economic crisis in 2009, a general strike on the nearby Guadeloupe -- also a French overseas territory -- spread to Martinique and totally paralyzed the tourism-centered economy. In Guadeloupe, due to the general strike "The main shipping container terminal at the port in Pointe-à-Pitre was closed and barricaded by protesters." The general strike on Martinique forced the government to reduce prices for everyday goods, like food, by 20% -- reminiscent of the autoreduction movement in Italy in the 1970s. The general strike even threatened to spread to the French overseas territorial island of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. The strikers won a monthly raise of €200 for the lowest paid workers and the government acquiesced to all of their 20 demands.

Fox News Latino wrote:
Martinique dock workers strike over perceived health threat

Published October 20, 2014

Port workers in Martinique's capital, Fort-de-France, went on strike Monday to protest potential health threats from an industrial-waste processing facility in the port.

The workers want port management to address the spread of metal dust as well as "visual contamination, bad odor and noise" generated by operations at the Metal Dom facility, news channel Martinique 1ere reported.

The work stoppage began early Monday, as strikers picketed outside the port and near the sprawling Metal Dom complex.

Talks between the workers and port management were expected late Monday.

Martinique is a French overseas territory with approximately 380,000 inhabitants.

Strikes in Costa Rica
Started 22 October 2014

The "open-ended" strike at Puerto Moín and Puerto Limón, began in response to calls for a general strike over privatization of the Costa Rican ports by APM Terminals (the Dutch based subsidiary of Maersk Line shipping). Port workers have frozen 85% of international commerce at the two state-run ports.

Journal of Commerce wrote:
Dockworkers strike over APMT terminal agreement in Costa Rica

Corianne Egan, Associate Editor | Oct 22, 2014 4:52PM EDT

Dockworkers in Costa Rica walked off the job today, continuing a long battle over a proposed container terminal operated by APM Terminals with a strike.

Union leaders described the strike as “indefinite.” The union, which represents workers working at terminal overseen by the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA), had threatened a strike for several days after Costa Rican courts green lit a 33-year concession agreement between the government and APMT for the construction of a new container terminal in Moin.

Workers Union Japdeva head Ronaldo Blear told ADN that docks in Limon and Moin would be closed starting at 8:30 a.m. today, calling it a "fight for dignity, to stop a monopoly and avoid serious harm to the people of Limon." The Port Authority told La Nacion that one container ship in Moin was in the middle of being unloaded. Two other container ships in Limon were also not able to be unloaded.

The Supreme Court of Costa Rica ratified the concession agreement on Oct. 9, two years after it was originally signed, allowing the 33-year concession to progress. Union workers disputed the contract and it had been tied up in appeals since 2011.

The $1 billion agreement allows APMT to design, finance, construct and operate the Moin Container Terminal. Construction is slated to begin in 2016. The terminal requires the construction of an island, which creates a 200-acre facility with nine ship-to-shore gantry cranes. The terminal will be able to handle ships up to 13,500 TEUs, five times larger than the ships that can curently be serviced in Costa Rica

After the walkout, President Luis Guillermo Solis took to Twitter to plead for an open dialogue between the government and union workers. He said the government is committed to maintaining operations on the docks and access roads, and told the SINTRAJAP the "doors are always open." Later, the tone of his tweets changed.

"A strike is not justified," he wrote. "This strike affects the activity and national economy, and we will not allow this unjustified stoppage. Limon is a port and consists of much more than a union.”

APMT said MCT is only awaiting approval from Costa Rica’s environmental agency before moving forward with the project. Approval is expected in the coming weeks, APMT said.


Supply Chain Re...
Oct 26 2014 15:39

Police retake the docks in Costa Rica

The Tico Times wrote:

Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa announced that police had removed striking stevedores from the docks in Moín and Limón, which handles 80 percent of Costa Rica’s international trade, Wednesday evening with the support of Casa Presidencial.

At 5:50 p.m. Wednesday, 150 police officers swarmed the docks and quickly retook control of the valuable port infrastructure. Authorities arrested 68 people: 53 in Moín and 15 on the dock in Limón. During a press conference that evening, Gamboa said that the docks had been reopened and that police would remain on location to ensure their continued operation.

“Police take control of the docks. Prudent and respectful,” Gamboa tweeted.

“National Police officers will remain at the docks until they operate normally,” tweeted the Security Ministry.

La Nación reported that the Atlantic Port Authority, JAPDEVA, had reopened the docks Thursday morning with contracted foreign labor. JAPDEVA General Manager Pablo Díaz refused to name the nationality of the substituted workers. The first ship arrived at Moín Thursday morning to begin unloading its cargo.

“Everything ready for the first ship to dock in Moín.”

Ronaldo Blears, leader of the JAPDEVA union, SINTRAJAP, told reporter Luis Miguel Herrera of the daily La Nación that the police action was “outrageous” and that if the government struck the union, the union would strike back.

SINTRAJAP, started an “indefinite” strike to protest a provision of the $1 billion-concession granting APM Terminals the right to build and operate a “mega port” in Moín and hold a 33-year monopoly on the handling of containers there. SINTRAJAP alleged that the concession would threaten jobs at the public-owned docks. Wednesday’s strike followed an unsuccessful appeal brought by SINTRAJAP workers against the concession earlier this month.

Thursday morning, Labor Minister Victor Morales, Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez, and Vice Minister of the Presidency Ana Gabriel Zúñiga received SINTRAJAP representatives, Broad Front Party lawmakers and Legislative Assembly President Henry Mora of the ruling Citizen Action Party to discuss the strike.

Morales is expected to give a statement about the negotiations later Thursday.

Nov 8 2014 00:59

Costa Rica Update:
On the night of Nov. 5, the union suspended the strike and workers returned for the 6:00 am shift, as a mean to prevent retaliations and to facilitate the negotiations with the government. The executive had been asking that the Port Authority sanction the striking workers and threatening to renegotiate the terms of the soon-to-expire laboral contract. Previously the local court at Limón had declared illegal the strike.
The union is demanding fair competition of the state ports against the new private ones.