The new electronic roster system opposed by dockworkers in Peru’s Port of Callao is being used to combat drug trafficking, according to facility operator APM Terminals (APMT).
APMT recently fired 130 of approximately 600 dockworkers involved in the strike, which began on 13 May at APMT’s general cargo terminal. Members of the Peruvian Navy have been used as replacement workers during the labour action.
On 2 June, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) president Paddy Crumlin told the International Labour Organization in Geneva that such tactics would be “unthinkable” in APMT’s home country of The Netherlands or in Denmark, where APMT parent Maersk is based.
“The irony is that we understand that an agreement was within reach,” said Crumlin. “The main sticking point was that these workers report that they are being denied the medical benefits offered to administrative port staff, despite the risk of injury and exposure to hazardous substances involved in their work.”
APMT responded that medical insurance is “in place” for all workers and refuted the ITF’s assertion that health benefits have been the main sticking point during ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.
Rather, APMT said the disagreement has centred on tactics it is using to combat drug activity at the port.
A new electronic roster system gives the terminal operator access to dockworker background information. APMT maintains that it can use this background information to legally fire employees and that it has the right to implement the system under Peruvian law.
The electronic roster “is desperately needed to improve the deployment of labour in the port”, APMT head of labour relations Ruud van der Wel told IHS Maritime.
“This new system will also help in the fight against drug trade in the port,” he maintained.