Opinions mixed over deal that ended Limón dock strike

Reaction to a deal struck by the government to end the Limón port strike is generating mixed reactions.

The Cámara de Exportadores de Costa Rica said Tuesday that its members were pleased. The deal commits the government to spent some $70 million to improve the public docks at Moín. The dock workers union went on strike to protest plans for a concession that would let a Dutch firm build a competing $1 billion container-handling facility.

Television reports, however, were critical and noted that the deal cost the government 3.5 million colons for every hour of negotiations with union representatives Monday night. A television report said that the dock workers union was a big winner at the expense of the central government.

The Dutch firm, APM Terminals, has not been heard from yet.

The export chamber said that the $70 million would go for buying new equipment for general cargo and expanding dock space. Everyone agrees that the docks are some of the most inefficient in the world.
The chamber also lamented the violence that had been visited on the area Thursday and Friday night before more police were sent in.

According to some reports, the central government also agreed not to deduct for days they were on strike from the workers’ pay. That is not in the agreement that both sides signed at Casa Presidencial late Monday, but it is a typical demand during negotiations over strikes.

Casa Presidencial posted the accord to its Web page without comment.

There has not been a lot of comment from other organization because the one-page agreement is not very specific.

The previous Óscar Arias Sánchez administration tried without success to get rid of the testy union. There was an offer of substantial payments based on years of service. The union leadership rejected the offer that may have meant $100,000 or more for some long-time workers. A rebellion with support from the central government ousted the union leadership and installed persons in favor of the government offer. But a series of legal cases put back the anti-deal union executives.

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