The MTD joined with its affiliates who are members of the International Transport Workers’ federation (ITF) in expressing concern over the tactics used by the Costa Rican government to suppress a workers’ protest regarding the privatization of that nation’s container terminals.
In a letter dated and hand-delivered to the Costa Rican embassy in Washington on November 6, MTD President Michael Sacco wrote, “We believe that neither the use of state violence nor the use of armed personnel against workers are appropriate ways to solve a labor conflict.”
Sacco noted that the workers had sought a dialogue with the government regarding this matter, which so far has not happened. He pledged the support of the MTD in this fight for jobs.
Dockers protesting a long-term operating agreement between the Costa Rican government and APM to operate the nation’s container terminal in place of the government-run operations at the terminals of Limon and Moin were attacked by armed officers on October 23. The dockers, members of the ITF-affiliated SINTRAJAP union, were concerned about losing their jobs
The ITF reported that nearly 70 men and women were arrested and the Limon and Moin facility closed. The London-based organization then noted when the port reopened the following day, “strikebreakers, some of them from nearby countries” had replaced the union members.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin stated, “This is another example of profit coming first, with governments putting effort – and violent effort – into attacking the public sector.”
According to the ITF, the dispute arose over a 33-year, $1 billion expansion deal won by APM to run a new terminal, which had been the subject of a legal battle. APM negotiated the exclusive right to handle containers, which could imperil the future of the state-owned port company where the union dockers are employed.
The ITF represents transport workers from 706 unions located in 154 nations. Several MTD affiliates are members of the ITF.