Peru:‭ ‬Port workers strike as unrest spreads

May 24, 2015
Longshore workers strike in port of Callao. Photo: TeleSUR/Rael Mora.

A new popular uprising has started in Peru at the port of Callao,‭ ‬crucial for international trade and the handling of the majority of the country‭’‬s seaborne cargo.‭

After‭ ‬10‭ ‬months of unresolved negotiations with transnational company,‭ ‬APM Terminals Peruvian longshore workers from the port of Callao,‭ ‬west of Lima,‭ ‬decided to take to the streets and march.‭

This latest demonstration follows an earlier strike against the company on May‭ ‬13,‭ ‬with workers demanding‭ ‬pay‭ ‬rises in‭ ‬relation to the company's profits,‭ ‬full healthcare coverage,‭ ‬and training.‭

The confrontation adds to the already‭ ‬175‭ ‬active conflicts in the country that President Ollanta Humala has to deal with.‭ ‬The issue is important for the administration as APM is the third largest terminal operator in the world and receives‭ ‬35%‭ ‬of all cargo entering Peru.‭ ‬Last year,‭ ‬APM derived almost US$17‭ ‬billion of its net profits from operations in Peru alone.‭

About‭ ‬650‭ ‬longshore workers,‭ ‬comprising‭ ‬95%‭ ‬of‭ ‬the APM port workforce,‭ ‬have joined the strike.‭ ‬One,‭ ‬Ricardo Mora,‭ ‬said port labourers are‭ ‬“exposed to the harshness of the weather,‭ ‬the rain,‭ ‬the high heat,‭ ‬the contamination,‭ ‬the overnight shifts with humidity‭”‬.‭

He‭ ‬said they‭ ‬“need health coverage to deal with the occupational sickness that is afflicting us because of this job‭”‬.‭ ‬Other workers face health issues due to their constant contact with lead,‭ ‬chlorine,‭ ‬and raw cement.‭

Defence secretary of the longshore union,‭ ‬Geraldo Honores,‭ ‬said:‭ ‬“What the company wants is for us to continue producing like we produce at the moment.‭ ‬But they refuse to give us health plans and that is bad for the image of the company.‭

“It is a transnational with a great deal of money.‭ ‬When they came to Callao,‭ ‬they said that money is the least of our worries and that they would give us all the benefits possible.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬they are not fulfilling their promise.‭”‬

In other social conflicts involving confrontations with big businesses in the country,‭ ‬Humala has sided with the companies and not the popular movements.‭ ‬The longshore workers say the president‭’‬s reaction to their situation has been the same.

They accuse the government of using the Navy to replace striking workers and perform their duties.‭ ‬Workers also complained that none of the local TV outlets have covered their side of the story.‭ ‬Under such circumstances,‭ ‬the longshoremen are determined to continue the strike indefinitely.

‭[‬Reprinted from‭ ‬TeleSUR English‭‬.‭]

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