Shortly after midnight Thursday police officers moved on the docks at Limón and Moín. They met with no resistance, and secured the docks against any possible reactions from striking workers.
There were some scuffles Thursday, and police used tear gas to break up crowds at both the Moín docks and at a roadblock on Ruta 32 near Limón. There were arrests.
During the afternoon, the central government issued a pledge to keep the docks open and working. Employees of private companies are doing some of the work.
Casa Presidencial said that officials had been seeking negotiations with the dock workers for 36 hours. The was no secret that the workers were going out on strike.
They are members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Administración Portuaria y Desarrollo Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica, a public agency. They number about 1,000, nearly all who live in the province of Limón.
Casa Presidencial said that eight private companies had workers on the job on the docks. A summary said that five cargo ships
were tied up and three were waiting in the bay. Some of the boats had been delayed there for 36 hours, and the financial loss was significant, said Casa Presidencial. The principal products being loaded are pineapples and bananas.
The government’s action was applauded by exporters, the Cámara de Industrias de Costa Rica and the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado.
Meanwhile, a union of educators and the Frente Interno de Trabajadores of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad are planning job actions of their own, partly in support of the dock workers and partly because they have other grievances with the government.
For the dock workers, the threat comes from a $1 billion proposed modern docking facility that a Dutch firm will build as a concession. The Limón docks are notoriously inefficient and prone to all sorts of job actions.
The dock workers correctly believe that the new facility, when built, will put them out of a job.
The Caldera docks on the Pacific were put out on a concession after a deal was struck to give big payoffs to the dock workers there. Then some were hired by the new company.