Other unions join in support of dock workers strike

A strike by workers on the Limón docks has become the core around which other unhappy organizations are clustering.

Workers of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Administración Portuaria y Desarrollo Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica, a public agency, walked out Tuesday morning. They oppose a plan for a Dutch company to build a $1 billion cargo handling facility that would compete and probably eliminate with the public docks.

Exporters are understandably jittery. The Cámara de Exportadores de Costa Rica Wednesday called for dialogue and outlined why the Limón and Moín docks are vital to the national economy.

The Cámara de Productores y Exportadores de Piña, representing pineapple growers, predicted significant losses to the fresh produce.

However, the union has said that it has exhausted the possibility of dialogue with the government.

The security ministry has been shifting police to Limón with the possibility that they would enter the docks and take them over in order to resume labor there. That has happened in the past when the same union struck.

The dock workers union wants the government to invest its money in improving the public docks and not continue with the plan for a concession. The problem is that the government does not have
the money, which is why it has contracted with APM Terminals, the Dutch company, to building the infrastructure and operate a more efficient loading and unloading system. The company has experience all over the world in doing that.

About 80 percent of the country’s imports and exports pass through the Limón docks.

The Asociación de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza posted a Web page notice that said the organization of educators would be supporting the dock workers. The organization said that the government was working against the public docks and creating a monopoly for APM. It called the dock worker strike defensive.
“The strike ought to be a call to all the union movements to retake the streets in mobilizing against a plan of cuts and dismantling of the public sector promoted by the government,” said the association.

The educators marched twice earlier this year over the minimal pay raises the government gave them. The association said on its Web page that it was calling a national strike June 26 to express popular discontent against the government.

Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados also announced its support of the dock workers. The organization called on the government to halt increases in port tariffs and to negotiate with strikers.

Some scuffles were reported late Wednesday between police and residents there. There were some arrests. Those arrested may be strikers or just residents.

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