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Costa Rica dockers in port privatisation stand-off
4 October 2006
|Ronaldo Blear, General Secretary of SINTRAJAP, outlines the dockers' demands during a media interview in the port of Limon|
A major dispute has erupted in Costa Rica after industrial action instigated by dockers at the end of last month was broken up by strike breakers. The dockers’ action was in protest over government plans to privatise two ports and the non-payment of labour benefits.
The dockers, members of the ITF-affiliated Union Sindicato de Trabajadores de JAPDEVA (SINTRAJAP), based in Puerto Limon are up in arms over plans to sell off the ports of Limon and Moin. They are also demanding more than 450 million Colones (US$1 million), which they are owed by the state in benefits. The money was a condition of a collective bargaining agreement signed by the union and government last year.
On 25 September, they began a “go slow”, but days later were confronted by some 300 strike breakers – comprising members of the police force and port security guards - who were under instruction by the Vice Minister of National Security to carry out handling work. The union has responded by galvanising public support for its cause – a press conference and meeting with civil groups has been scheduled for today.
Antonio Fritz, ITF Americas Regional Secretary, explained: “The government of Costa Rica is unashamedly hostile to the union movement, and has repeatedly failed to honour the commitments they themselves signed with various transport workers. It’s difficult to understand why at the same time as they’re trying to create an international image of respect for basic human and labour rights, they are also tearing up their own agreements.”
Ronaldo Blear, General Secretary of SINTRAJAP, commented: “It is scandalous that the government has brought in unskilled, untrained strike breakers in order to replace dockers. They did the same thing when we were forced to organise a work stoppage last April.”
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