Police and security guards brought in as strike breakers in Costa Rican ports

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The ITF is gravely concerned over the militarisation of the Ports of Limon and Moin in Costa Rica following industrial action instigated by dockworkers at the end of September.  Members of the ITF-affiliated Union Sindicato de Trabajadores de JAPDEVA (SINTRAJAP) are protesting 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.

The government’s consistent failure to respect its commitments, and its intention to privatise the port without a dialogue that would include SINTRAJAP as the representative of the dockworkers have forced the union to take action.  On 25 September, the dockworkers began working strictly in accordance with the port regulations.  However, days later they 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 cargo handling work.  The union has responded by galvanising public support for its cause, calling a press conference and meeting with civil society groups.

SINTRAJAP and some NGOs in Limon have proposed a project for the port’s modernisation in order to increase its productivity. Unfortunately they have not received any response from the JAPDEVA (port) management.

The government of Costa Rica is unashamedly hostile to the union movement, and has repeatedly failed to honour the commitments it has signed with various transport workers. It is also attempting to eliminate collective bargaining agreements at the national level.  At the same time as trying to create an international image of respect for human and labour rights, the government is tearing up its own agreements.

Affiliates are asked to support SINTRAJAP by any legal means available to them and by writing to the President demanding the following:

a)    that the armed forces stop attacking and threatening workers in the ports;
b)    that members of the armed forces who have attacked and intimidated workers be punished;
c)    that the armed forced withdraw and hand operations back to dockworkers;
d)    that the CBA of JAPDEVA is recognised and respected and its benefits honoured in accordance with Costa Rica’s international commitments; and
e)    that a dialogue about the future of Puerto Moin and Puerto Limon is established with the participation of SINTRAJAP, with the objective of addressing the development and productivity of the ports in a way that secures social and economic gains for the people of Costa Rica.

 The text of the letter sent by the ITF is attached, and contact details for the Costa Rican President are below. Please send copies of your protest letters to Sharon James at the ITF via fax number: +44 20 7940 9275

DOCTOR OSCAR ARIAS SÁNCHEZ
PRESIDENTE DE LA REPÚBLICA
COSTA RICA
Fax: +506 253-7569

The e-mails for the Costa Rican President are:
oarias@casapres.go.cr
msoler@casapres.go.cr
lsolis@gobnet.go.cr



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Related documents:
ITF Protest Letter to the President of Costa Rica (161kb PDF)

Sample Letter to the President of Costa Rica (59kb DOC)

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