APM Terminals (APMT) has fired 130 dockworkers at its general cargo terminal in Callao, Peru, where a strike has been ongoing since 13 May.
According to APMT, the strike involves approximately 600 workers. During the past week, “certain employees have been receiving notification that they’re no longer allowed to work here”, APMT spokesman Tom Boyd told IHS Maritime on 29 May.
The dockworkers given notices were selected based on drug tests as well as their attendance, Boyd said, noting that there have been six strikes at the port during the past nine months. He maintained that the layoffs were legal under Peru’s labour laws.
Geraldo Honores, secretary general of SUTRAMPORPC, the union involved in the dispute, called the move “a radical change of strategy” by APMT as the two sides attempt to hammer out a settlement.
“While the parties during the strike have continued meeting in the Ministry of Labour to find a negotiated solution, [APMT] has now opted for a strategy of greater confrontation against the striking workers,” Honores said in a statement.
Much of the dispute is over APMT’s use of a new electronic roster system. The system, which the terminal operator asserts is supported by the Peruvian government, provides better access to employee backgrounds and allows APMT to select among union employees.
“It’s about removing the drug trade, criminal activity, cargo theft – making the port a safe environment to work in,” Boyd said. “It helps us make sure all union employees have access to jobs.”
APMT, which has been using the Peruvian Navy to fill in for striking workers, has maintained that the strike has been limited to its general cargo terminal, with minimal effect on operations.
The union claims that all APMT operations are being disrupted, including container operations, due to the use of inexperienced workers.