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Message-ID: <199704221105.LAA26123@mail.gn.apc.org>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 11:05:50 GMT
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: LabourNet <chrisbailey@GN.APC.ORG>
Subject: Santos - truce until April 30th

Workers go back to the COSIPA berth: National strike suspended

18 April 1996, 22,30 PM UPDATE

The workers at the Santos Port (Brazil) have just gone back to their jobs at Cosipa's berth. A temporary agreement was reached with the company in order to discuss the working conditions as a whole. There will be a truce until April 30 in order to allow the discussion of a collective agreement. In this period the ships handled at Cosipa's private berth will be handled both by the dockers and the workers hired by the company. The first meeting for the discussion of this collective agreement will take place on Tuesday, April 22.

The national strike declared this morning, April 18, has been suspended, including at the Santos Port, which had been paralysed since April 15, as a reaction to the assault to the two ships, Vancouver and Marcos Dias, which had been occupied by the workers since April 2. The work in all ports will be resumed from today (April 19) at 7 am.

According to the co-ordinator of the Santos Port Interunion organisation, Joaquim da Silve (Quincas) president of the Dockers Union, the most important thing about this truce is the reopening of the negotiations, to a table, from where they should never have left.

For him, to force Cosipa back to the negotiations was a partial victory, important in order to put the debate about the ports back to where it belongs. This difficult phase of the workers movement we are going through here, also shows the importance of combining effective actions with and effort of international communications and support in order to spread the word about the worker's struggle he said.

Jose Tarcisco Florentino da Silva, president of the Sindicatop dos Conferentes and vice president of the Federacao dos Trabalhadores Avulsos (Fenccovib) also stressed the importance of world-wide solidarity: We know this is not just a Brazilian struggle or a struggle of the Santos port. The same kind of problems apply in different countries. Disputes like the one in Liverpool, in Seoul, in Amsterdam and now in Rotterdam are the result of a deliberate project of casualisation of labour relations and cuts in wages. The workers need to organise a global response to this project.

Ports paralysed in protest for the lack of agreement, 18 April, 13,30 PM UPDATE

More than 300 thousand tonnes of cargo have not been handled in Santos because of the protest strike, which today, April 18 has reached its fourth day. 38 ships are paralysed in the berths and 21 others outside the port. Today, there have been solidarity strikes in the most important Brazilian ports.

66,000 Brazilian port workers struck today, April 18, o organised solidarity demonstrations against the exclusion of unionised labour from the work at Cosipa. The national movement wants to put pressure in favour of a way out from the impasse according to the National Dockers Federation.

Apart from Santos, the largest Latin-American port, the ports of Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande, Porto Alegre, Imbituba and Sao Francisco are also paralysed. The port of Vitoria organised slow downs today and will strike tomorrow , April 19. The port of Itajai has struck for two hours in each of the six shifts. The port of Paranagua organised public demonstrations in solidarity with the movement in Santos.

The negotiations, interrupted on the night of the 17, were resumed yesterday. The main obstacle is still Cosipa's intention of handling the ships in its own berth with its own labour. The unions didn't even accepted a division of labour, because they say this would create a precedent which would be latter adopted in other ports in the country. This system would only be a temporary one before reaching a definitive agreement. Cosipa maintain its position of not wanting to negotiate the handling of its ships with its own workers.

Pressure against the officials of the Vancouver

Reliable sources obtained by the Intersindical Portuaria de Santos (INTERPORTUS) reveal that the officials of the Vancouver have been subjected to pressures because of the interview they gave to the National Confederation of Sea, Air and River Transport (CONTTMAF), denouncing the risk conditions in the operations handled by Cosipa with its own workers.

The Fertimport Maritime Agency, which represents the owner of the ship, denied to the journalists the veracity of this information. According to internal sources this attitude would be the result of pressure made by Cosipa, which would also be pressurising the officials not to give any more statements to the journalists, although the officials have not retreated from their previous statements yet.

The original interview was made in a bar, at Santos city centre, with dozens of witnesses. Amongst them the president of the Federacao Nacional dos Avulsos (Fenccovib), Mario Teixeira, the president of the Sindicato dos Conferentes de Carga e Descarga, Jose Tarciso Florentino da Silva; the president of the Sindicato dos Vigias Porturarios and general secretart of Conttmaf, Carlos Henrique Matos (Caio) and the directos of the Santos Dockers Union, Orlando Santana.