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ITF defends Honduran union leader after armed attack

The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has acted to defend a Honduran dockers’ trade union leader after armed assailants tried to batter their way into his home and kill him.

The attack was made at the house in Puerto Cortés of Victor Crespo, general secretary of the Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) at 06:50 on 14 September. The attackers only left the scene when they became aware of the number of witnesses they’d awakened in neighbouring premises and on leaving shouted through the door that if Crespo didn’t disappear they’d be back in eight hours to finish the job. The incident follows several anonymous death threats telling Crespo to stop seeking a collective contract at the town’s port. The latest attackers yelled that he should “stop making noise organising stevedores”.

The SGTM, in full accordance with national labour legislation, has requested a collective bargaining agreement with the stevedoring companies of the port.

ICTSI (International Container Terminal Services, Inc) won a concession to operate the port in February.

Following the attack the ITF has moved to ensure Crespo’s safety. He is now being kept in a safe place and the Honduran police, president, the ILO (International Labour Organization) and ICTSI have all been contacted and alerted. The ITF has told the Honduran president that Crespo has made two formal complaints to the police but has been offered no protection and urges the government to intervene to provide this. The ITF has also stated that its affiliates globally want to see adequate guarantees given so that port workers are assured of the right to legally request and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement to regulate their labour conditions free from intimidation.

Writing to the head of ICTSI, the ITF said: Death threats to a trade unionist on account of their promotion and defence of workers’ rights will not be tolerated by either our organisation or the millions of workers we represent. We have been in touch with the Honduran government over this matter and, as with any case of this gravity, we would be forced to take all possible global action should there be any suggestion of employer involvement in an intimidation campaign of this kind.
 
We are hopeful of an immediate end to all violence and threats against Mr Crespo and his associates and for guarantees to be given over the rights of workers in Puerto Cortes to request and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement to regulate their labour conditions, and for that CBA to be respected.

ITF Americas regional secretary Antonio Fritz commented: “This was a shameful and cowardly attack that we believe is linked to the union’s legitimate and lawful request for a collective bargaining contract which, despite being repeatedly refused by the employers, it is certain to secure. We have no doubt that Victor is in danger of his life, and that the members of his union are also at risk. We are doing everything possible to defend him and them, but it is also time for the Honduran government and authorities to fulfil their obligations too.”

The ITF is also being supported by Labourstart, which is launching an online campaign to assist Victor Crespo and his union. For more details visit

ENDS

For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.
Email: dawson_sam@itf.org.uk

International Transport Workers' Federation - ITF:
HEAD OFFICE
ITF House, 49 - 60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DS
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7403 2733
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7375 7871
Email: mail@itf.org.uk
Web: www.itfglobal.org