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.
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.
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.