The talks between the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) and PMA (Pacific Maritime Association) began in May and cover 29 ports the length of the US West Coast, whose dockers are represented by the union. The talks are conducted under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ to negotiate around the table, not in the media. Representatives of ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) dock unions heard today how the PMA broke this agreement through press attacks smearing the ILWU and saying that is it ‘crippling ports’ and ‘threatening holiday commerce’. (The ILWU has rebutted the charges on a point by point basis. See www.ilwu.org/pma-deceptively-blames-workers-for-port-congestion-caused-by-chassis-mismanagement-and-other-supply-chain-failures)
Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of its dockers’ section, commented: “These negotiations are massively significant, including to US trade. They’re too important for dirty tricks and childish one-upmanship. The ILWU understands and respects that. It seems the PMA doesn’t.
“The association’s recent tactics are not just embarrassing, they’re potentially dangerous. It needs to stop, get its act together and commit to these talks. Along the way it can also address the backlog in the ports caused by its inexplicable chassis decisions, kill the attempts to deflect the blame for them, and bury any attempts to penalise shipping lines via surcharges for the PMA’s own mismanagement.”
He continued: “Today’s meeting of the ITF dockers’ section in London brings together dockworkers’ unions from across the globe. At it we have jointly pledged to offer our
active solidarity support to the ILWU and its members by any and all legal means available to the family of dockworker unions around the world, in order to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.
“We all support a negotiated and fair resolution to these contract talks. We are calling on the PMA to prove that it is committed to that same aim.”