Marathon Negotiation Ends 51-Day Port Dispute

July 25, 2008

Following a 13-hour negotiation session last week, the government and the Atlantic Port Authority’s (JAPDEVA) labor union reached an agreement that ended a 51-day labor dispute that disrupted cargo handling operations at the Limón-Moín port complex, on the Caribbean coast.

The port handles roughly 80 percent of the country’s maritime cargo.

The agreement ends a dispute that put the port out of operation between six and 18 hours a day. Union members were demanding overtime pay for hours worked beyond the six-hour shift included in their collective bargaining agreement.

Marco Vargas, an inter-institutional coordination minister, said the union workers agreed to switch from working four six-hour shifts to working three eight-hour shifts under the condition that they be paid overtime during the last two hours of each shift. In addition, the government agreed to create 100 additional positions within JAPDEVA.

Vargas said that now the crisis has been resolved, the government can focus on advancing its plan to turn the operation and expansion over to a concession and the port to a private firm. Caldera, the country’s main Pacific shipping port, by comparison, has been managed privately since 2006.

Vargas said the government estimates it will be able to issue a tender, organize a bid and select a winner next year.

Last week Dutch consulting firm Royal Haskoning presented the government with a master plan for the country’s Caribbean ports, which will serve as the basis for designing the concession tender, the daily La República reported.

 

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