Limón dock workers voting today for union directors

Members of the dock workers union in Limón have their general assembly today, and the big item is the election of a board of directors.

There are two competing factions. One group wishes to retain state control of the docks at Limón and Moín. The other wants union members to accept a payoff from the government and allow the docks to be let out in concession to private firms.

This has been a long-running dispute. The union is the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica,

In late 2009 the government ordered the leaders of the Limón docks union to hold a general meeting and vote on the government’s plan to award the port in a concession to a private operator.

The dock concession and the improvements expected to be brought by a concession holder are the keystone to a plan to develop the area around Limón Centro. So the government was thrilled that the pro-concession faction won the 2009 vote.

But a court reversed the voting and put the former leadership back in charge. The vote today is basically between those two factions. Under the plan formulated by the Óscar Arias Sánchez government each dock worker would get a payoff of as much as $99,000. Each also may be rehired by the successful concession bidder.

The Limón docks are notoriously slow and inefficient. The docks lack modern equipment, and the unions have engaged in repeated work stoppages. Many agricultural exports pass through this port, including bananas and pineapples. Work stoppages have been costly.

The general assembly opens today at 9 a.m. in the Gimnasio Eddy Bermúdez in Limón.

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