Date: Wed, 13 Aug 1997 11:21:14 GMT
South African dockers to boycott fruit exports to Sheerness
From LabourNet <chrisbailey@GN.APC.ORG>, 13 August 1997
In a dramatic echo of the international Outspan boycott during the apartheid years, South African dockers plan to halt fruit exports to the UK in solidarity with sacked Liverpool dockers. Oranges and other South African citrus fruit marketed by Capespan land in the UK at the Port of Sheerness, which is 100% owned and operated by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company through Medway Ports Ltd. A twenty year contract to handle Capespan imports was recently announced by Mersey Docks. According to Medway Ports, fresh produce represents over a third of activity at the Port of Sheerness. Mersey Docks has invested over =A39 million to upgrade cold storage facilities at the Sheerness Produce Terminal and a further =A38 million on its new hinterland complex.
Liverpool dockers were sacked by Mersey Docks two years ago for refusing to cross a picket line, and have mounted an international campaign to win reinstatement. US longshoremen shut down all major West Coast ports in solidarity for 8 - 24 hours in January, with other industrial action stretching through 27 countries.
The South African Transport and General Workers Union has expressed strong support for the Liverpool men, recalling the 1988 blockade of South African and Namibian uranium in the Port of Liverpool before the abolition of the UK National Dock Labour Scheme.
The TGWU, affiliated to the main South African union federation COSATU, is pressing for a Dock Labour Scheme to be created in South Africa. General Secretary Marvin Mfundisi today stated that his union is "fully behind" the planned boycott.
Mfundisi can be contacted at the TGWU on 0027 21 461 9410