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Peruvian dockers win action on Covid-19, PPE

10 Jun 2020

Dock workers at APM Terminals Callao in Peru have succeeded with reaching an agreement with the company and the authorities for Covid-19 coronavirus testing and fair pandemic payments after five dockers died and more than 35 tested positive for the virus in the last week.

The workers, who are members of ITF affiliate SUTRAMPORPC (Sindicato Único de Trabajadores Marítimos y Portuarios del Puerto del Callao), have successfully negotiated:

  • Independent inspection of workplace protective equipment and equipment cleaning processes;
  • Covid-19 testing of dockers at APM Terminals Callao every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday;
  • A weekly compensation payment of 560 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) (USD$163) for dockers who are unable to work due to being infected with Covid-19, or who  are exceptionally at-risk if they were to become infected with the virus[1];

The result follows early warnings by the union that APM Terminals Callao over concerns regarding protection measures for dock workers. Members had been forced to use the same PPE for many days, and there was an insufficient sanitation at the port facilities, the union says. Workers are thrilled the company has agreed to carry out Covid-19 tests, but the changes come too late for five of their compatriots.

Norberto Farfán, President of SUTRAMPORPC said “It’s a great sadness that we have suffered with our deceased brothers and we are very concerned with the Covid-19 infections in the port due to the lack of prevention measures. We deeply appreciate the efforts of the ITF to help us guarantee our security and we will be demanding that everything negotiated with the company be fulfilled”.

Without testing, more workers and their families will catch the virus, and die. Peru now has had over 200,000 cases of Covid-19, and has seen almost 6,000 people die due to the virus.  

Willie Adams, ITF Dockers section Vice-Chair and International President of the ILWU, says the Peruvian union’s campaign received strong support.

“You can’t have a situation where dockers are getting sick at work and taking that virus home to their kids and elderly parents, or grandparents. Companies need to be held to account if they're not providing sufficient protection for workers. One death is too many, and we tragically saw five workers from APM Terminals Callao die from Covid-19. We must act everywhere to isolate and treat any sick workers to prevent transmission of the virus, before we see any more devastating loss of life. I congratulate our Peruvian sisters and brothers on their victory,” said Willie Adams.

The union received strong international support in their battle to stop the infections and deaths at APM Terminals Callao.

Enrico Tortolano, ITF Dockers Coordinator said the ITF’s Dockers section has established universal Covid-19 worksite protocols  to protect dock workers. He says this agreement is significant because multinational employers now have to recognise that workers are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace, especially during a killer pandemic.

“Today’s agreement will mean better protection for these key workers in their fight to stay healthy and stay alive through this pandemic,”

“The right to refuse unsafe work remains paramount. Our universal safe working protocols must become standard practice in other big terminal operators. Without a safe and healthy workforce, these multinational companies and the transport supply chain will grind to a halt,” said Enrico Tortolano.

Edgar Díaz, ITF acting regional secretary, added: “This moment it’s essential to demand the strictest security controls to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among transport workers. The workers and their union should be proud of the victory today to defend  the health of these workers who are playing an essential role in these times of global crisis”.

 

[1] This payment is for dockers who worked more 10 shifts weekly on average during the last 12 months with conditions that prevents them from working during the pandemic, according to the definitions set out in Peru’s Ministerial Resolution No. 283-2020-MINSA. These workers will be paid the payment while isolating during the pandemic at their own homes.

 

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