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Ryanair, Europe’s Cut-Price Behemoth, Agrees to Recognize Pilot Unions for First Time

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 09:55

Ryanair, Europe’s Cut-Price Behemoth, Agrees to Recognize Pilot Unions for First Time

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/15/business/ryanair-pilot-unions.html?_r=0
By AMIE TSANGDEC. 15, 2017

Ryanair, known for combining ultralow fares with charges for services, reversed a longstanding policy amid a controversy over its treatment of workers. CreditPaulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times
LONDON — Ryanair, Europe’s biggest budget airline, built itself into a juggernaut by aggressively cutting costs at every opportunity. Fuel consumption was tightly controlled. Turnaround times were slashed. And, crucially, unions were banned.

Now Ryanair has been forced to change its stance on labor, as it faces a growing backlash among its ranks. The carrier on Friday officially recognized pilot unions, a move that could cut into the company’s profit and prompt a broader industry shakeout.

It is a sign that Ryanair will increasingly have to behave like its competitors, grappling with the labor costs that usually face a legacy carrier. Investors recognized the threat, with shares of the carrier falling more than 8 percent on Friday.

“It’s an acknowledgment that the fundamental core of the business model has to change and they’re going to have to start operating like a normal airline,” said Andrew Charlton, managing director of Aviation Advocacy, a consultancy.

“They are going to lose some of the extraordinary cost advantage they’ve had over every other airline.”

Ryanair is facing a fiercely competitive aviation market in Europe, one in which several airlines have collapsed or been bought in recent months. With flights sometimes as cheap as $15, an array of airlines of varying sizes have little margin for error, and any shock to the system could upend their business plans.

There are other longer-term challenges, as well. For one, Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union could curtail the freedom for airlines to fly between airports in the region.

Since its founding in 1985, Ryanair outmaneuvered its competitors. Growing from a single 15-seat aircraft flying from the south of Ireland to London’s Gatwick Airport, the airline now has more than 400 Boeing 737s, and carried more than nine million passengers last month alone.

Keeping labor costs low was a critical piece of the profit. The company has used a mix of full-time employees and independent contractors. It steadfastly refused to meet with, or recognize, any unions.

In doing so, Ryanair was able to sidestep labor regulations and social security taxes in the dozens of countries in which it operates. Its labor costs were among the lowest within its European cohorts. Other low-cost rivals followed its lead.

While pilots have pushed to unionize for years, Ryanair was able to hold off their efforts. But a scheduling disaster in recent months put Ryanair on the defensive.

After the airline messed up its fall vacation schedule for pilots, it scrambled to find replacements, saying instead that it might cut a week of vacation time. Employees, many of them independent contractors, pushed back. Ryanair ultimately had to cancel more than 20,000 flights, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers in all.

Pilots galvanized to set up their own groups across Europe for negotiating with the company. They demanded collective bargaining and more secure contracts.

Ryanair resisted for months. It was concerned that rivals were trying to leverage the flight cancellations to force it to negotiate with unions and, potentially, push its labor costs higher. Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, argued that airline unions and competitors were trying to “demean and disparage our collective success.”

As the busy holiday travel season approached, pilots ultimately threatened to strike. Ryanair had to relent.

It invited unions in Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain to talks.

“Christmas flights are very important to our customers, and we wish to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week,” Mr. O’Leary said in a statement.

“Recognizing unions will be a significant change for Ryanair, but we have delivered radical change before,” he added.

The airline also maintained that it would acknowledge only representatives from Ryanair and that it would not “engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere.”

Ryanair called for the unions to cancel any potential strikes. It was not immediately clear whether a planned walkout in Ryanair’s home country, Ireland, would go ahead.

British and Italian unions welcomed the airline’s move, but others were more cautious. One question that remained was whether Ryanair would negotiate only with directly employed pilots, or whether it would be willing to discuss the conditions of contractor pilots and cabin crews as well.

“Ryanair believed at the beginning that it could work ignoring the rights of its employees, and now, faced with the evidence of reality, it is opening its eyes,” Antonio Piras, the general secretary of the Italian union Fit-Cisl, said in a statement. Anpac, another Italian union, on Friday suspended a four-hour strike planned for the afternoon and welcomed Ryanair’s openness to negotiations.

Impact, an Irish union, declined to comment except to say that it had spoken to Ryanair management and was seeking further meetings. The British Airline Pilots Association said it accepted Ryanair’s offer to enter discussions.

Alessandra Cocca, a 40-year-old former flight attendant for Ryanair who sued the company over her dismissal and work conditions, called it an “epic, epic win” that showed that the airline could be put under pressure.

But she conceded that it would still be difficult for cabin crew members to fight for better conditions. “They are more frightened than pilots because they feel like numbers,” Ms. Cocca said. “They are not people, they feel like numbers and can easily be substituted.”

Tags: RyanairPilots Unionunion contract
Categories: Labor News

ATU 1005 Twin Cities Metro Transit Bus drivers using Super Bowl to boost working conditions

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 08:08

ATU 1005 Twin Cities Metro Transit Bus drivers using Super Bowl to boost working conditions
Union is voting this weekend on Met Council's final offer.
http://www.startribune.com/bus-drivers-using-super-bowl-to-boost-working...
By Eric Roper Star Tribune DECEMBER 16, 2017 — 7:10PM

Metro Transit bus driver Deb Sievers was slugged by a 14-year-old girl just over two years ago after asking a group of teenagers not to interfere with other passengers. “We aren’t safe on our buses,” the 13-year veteran said.

Leveraging the threat of a crippling strike during the Super Bowl, 2,500 local transit workers begin voting Sunday on a new contract that would raise wages and improve safety on the job.

Union leadership recommended they approve the deal, following tense negotiations and heated rallies at Metropolitan Council meetings throughout the week. The labor dispute brought attention to what Metro Transit drivers say is an unsafe workplace, where passengers physically assault them and many suffer through the stress of inadequate bathroom breaks.

“We want respect in the workplace,” said Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005.

The proposed contract increases wages by 2.5 percent per year, over three years, and leaves health care plans untouched. A third-year bus driver making $45,115 today would earn $57,679 by the year three of the contract, not including average overtime of $8,400 a year, according to the council.

The push for improved safety conditions resulted in the installation of protective plexiglass beside the driver’s seat in 21 buses, starting this week, to see how they work.

Improving the workstation of bus drivers has been a priority of the international Amalgamated Transit Union in Washington, which asked local unions this fall to express support for changes. International ATU President Larry Hanley said the coming Super Bowl was a chance to give the issue attention.

Metro Transit bus driver Deb Sievers headed along her route in downtown Minneapolis and Uptown on Dec. 14.

“What the transit industry is doing is making us play without headgear, without helmets and without padding,” Hanley said. “They’re making us just go out there and take the beating.”

‘We aren’t safe’

Metro Transit data show there have been 72 felony-level assaults on bus drivers since 2010, which are the most serious out of more than 1,000 assault and harassment incidents over that period. Drivers are spit on roughly 35 times per year, an act that became a gross misdemeanor in 2013.

A review of court records paints a picture of what drivers endure in the most serious cases.

Many involve passengers punching a driver in the face — sometimes several times — often after being asked to pay the fare. In other cases, passengers choked drivers, slapped drivers, threw bottles, fought with other passengers in the driver area and grabbed drivers’ breasts

Driver Deb Sievers was slugged by a 14-year-old girl just over two years ago after asking a group of teenagers not to interfere with other passengers. The girl ran out the bus door after the assault, and her mother turned her in a week later.

“I’ve ended up with PSTD. I’ve got anxiety,” said Sievers, a 13-year veteran of the agency. “We aren’t safe on our buses.”

Sievers helps console colleagues affected by similar incidents as a peer support operator, which included waiting for a driver to get out of surgery when his nose was cut open by a passenger.

Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said last week that as a rider since the age of 14, he understands the challenges drivers face. He said the agency has added cameras and police protection to boost safety.

“I think we’ve been really responsive over the years,” Lamb said. “We’re willing to take a look at how protective shields might work.”

Other transit systems across the country have also added partitions to protect drivers. They’ve been installed in New York City, Chicago and on many buses in Washington, D.C., among other cities.

New York City completed installation across its bus fleet this year after the city’s union pushed for the barriers in its contract several years ago.

“It does provide a definite level of protection that was needed,” said Jim Gannon, a spokesman for ATU Local 100, which represents most of the city’s transit workers. “In general, I think the drivers are happy with it. It doesn’t prevent all assaults, but it definitely helps.”

Chicago rolled out barriers in 2007 to roughly a quarter of its fleet. They were ultimately redesigned after drivers said the first versions made it difficult to talk to passengers, or even to breathe, according to the Chicago Transit Authority. All the agency’s buses now have redesigned barriers.

“CTA does believe these protective shields absolutely are helpful in protecting drivers, based on the feedback we’ve received,” CTA spokesman Jon Kaplan said in an e-mail.

Bathrooms

Union members surprised Met Council members at Monday’s Transportation Committee with hand-delivered Mason jars, filled with yellowish liquid, labeled “Metro Transit Driver’s #1.” It was juice, but the stunt was intended to make a point about restrooms.

Incoming union president Ryan Timlin said some routes have restrooms at both ends, while others have them only mid-route. Stopping mid-route could mean some riders don’t make their transfers. Sometimes the schedule is too tight to stop at the end of the route.

“It needs to be dealt with because its causing harm to the workforce’s body as time goes on,” Timlin said.

Lawson said it becomes a medical problem for some long-term drivers.

“Frankly, some of the older drivers, I’ve known some of them that have had to wear adult diapers on the job because after having wrecked their bladders for 30 or 40 years, they can’t cross their legs and hold it anymore,” Lawson said.

The latest contract says a committee will be formed to ensure that the end of each route will have proper restrooms open at all hours, especially on weekends.

Events as leverage

It’s not the first time a major sporting event has been used by a transit union to influence collective bargaining.

In 2015, 300 bus drivers in Phoenix threatened to strike during the Super Bowl over health care issues and reached a deal just a week before Super Bowl events began. In 2009, Philadelphia transit workers threatened to strike during the World Series over wages and benefits. They walked off the job the day the games between the Phillies and the Yankees moved to New York.

“Transit strikes are always big deals because they impact the traveling public, and the businesses that employ them, as well as the employer itself,” said Dave Riehle, a former railroad worker who has researched Twin Cities transit labor history. “They typically have not been frequent or long-lasting.”

The last major Twin Cities transit strike occurred in 2004, when the Met Council attempted to rein in wages and health care benefits. It lasted about six weeks.

“Everyone thought that the city was going to grind to a halt, and it really didn’t. That really didn’t happen,” said Peter Bell, who chaired the Met Council during the 2004 negotiations.

Bell said he was surprised to see the union proposing a strike during the Super Bowl.

“I think the public would say, ‘Oh my God, why do you have to pick this time, when Minneapolis and St. Paul are in the international spotlight and you are looking at very parochial interests?’ ” Bell said.

eric.roper@startribune.com 612-673-1732

Twitter: @StribRoper

Tags: ATU 1005health and safetytransit workers
Categories: Labor News

Port Of Charleston Drivers Vote To Join Teamsters Local 509

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 22:15

Port Of Charleston Drivers Vote To Join Teamsters Local 509
https://teamster.org/news/2017/12/port-charleston-drivers-vote-join-team...

DECEMBER 13, 2017

Workers Seek Living Wages, Fair Treatment on the Job
(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) – In a national move to modernize the port trucking industry to respect the rights of drivers and stabilize their families’ income, drivers at a South Carolina port drayage company have voted to join Teamsters Local 509.
The 53 drivers at Container Maintenance Corporation (CMC) Logistics transport shipping containers between the Port of Charleston and a railyard in North Charleston.
“Local 509 believes this victory is a monumental win because it will pave the way for many others at the Charleston ports,” said James Todd, Local 509 President. “We want to thank everyone for the hard work and dedication to make this campaign successful.”
“This is a victory for all port drivers who are fighting for justice. Despite the company’s vicious anti-worker campaign, these drivers remained strong and united in their fight to win decent, living wages and fair treatment,” said Fred Potter, Director of the Teamsters Port Division. “The Port Division worked hand in hand with Local 509 on this victory and stands ready to help negotiate a strong first contract to improve these workers’ lives.”
“We’re all happy because we know we will have a strong voice at work as Teamsters,” said Antoin Jenkins, who has worked at CMC since 2015. “With a strong voice, we can improve things at work. It’s very exciting to be a Teamster.”
“The final straw that led us to unite as Teamsters was in August when the company changed our pay from hourly to ‘production,’ and then cut our pay. I applied for a home loan and when the underwriter called the company to verify my income, the company told them I’m ‘just a production worker’ with no verifiable income so I was rejected. Now as Teamsters, we can negotiate a pay and benefits package that works for families like mine,” said Reggie McQueen, who has worked at CMC since 2015.
Port drivers across America – both those misclassified as independent contractors and employee drivers who are being driven into despair by low wages and unpredictable income – are fighting back against a system that is rigged by America’s largest corporations. The system creates wealth for the CEOs at the expense of working men and women like the drivers who haul cargo from America’s seaports.
The Port of Charleston drivers’ victory is the fourth recent win for workers at intermodal companies. On December 1, 133 workers at ITS ConGlobal in Harvey, Ill., voted to join Teamsters Local 710 in the Chicago area. In November 2016, 777 workers at Parsec, Inc. in Commerce, Calif., voted to join Teamsters Local 986 and this past July, 507 workers at Parsec in Elwood, Ill. voted to join Teamsters Local 179.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States and Canada. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Tags: Port Of CharlestonTeamsters Local 509
Categories: Labor News

Containers at Melbourne’s VICT Still Stranded "MUA claims that the employee was denied shifts “after taking action against management over workplace bullying and harassment, and acting as an MUA delegate at the site.”

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 22:12

Containers at Melbourne’s VICT Still Stranded
MUA claims that the employee was denied shifts “after taking action against management over workplace bullying and harassment, and acting as an MUA delegate at the site.”

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/237966/containers-at-melbournes-v...

zoom
Image Courtesy: VICT

Workers have been picketing due to an ongoing dispute involving a casual worker who was denied a security clearance because of a criminal record.

Based on the latest information provided by MUA, the maritime worker at the centre of the industrial dispute at VICT has been granted a security clearance by federal authorities.

MUA claims that the employee was denied shifts “after taking action against management over workplace bullying and harassment, and acting as an MUA delegate at the site.”

The Australian Supreme Court ordered Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officers on Tuesday to abandon their picket at the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), banning them from approaching VICT’s business within a 100-meter radius.
It also issued orders requiring the unions to stop restricting access to the terminal and enable movement of containers which have been stranded at the site for over two weeks.

The union has also been told “not to encourage others to attend the site to do the same.”

Nevertheless, the picket is still in place, despite the court order, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), representing freight operators, said.

“Trucks are not able to access containers at VICT,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.

“This arrogant defiance of a Supreme Court order is continuing to disrupt activities at the terminal, as well as trade and commerce throughout the state during the busiest time of the year for small businesses that are being denied access to their goods.”

Anderson urged all parties to use the industrial relations system and Fair Work Commission to have workplace disputes resolved.

Over 1,000 containers are kept motionless at Port of Melbourne’s container terminal at Web Dock after members of MUA walked off the job amid an industrial dispute.

Workers have been picketing due to an ongoing dispute involving a casual worker who was denied a security clearance because of a criminal record.

Based on the latest information provided by MUA, the maritime worker at the centre of the industrial dispute at VICT has been granted a security clearance by federal authorities.

MUA claims that the employee was denied shifts “after taking action against management over workplace bullying and harassment, and acting as an MUA delegate at the site.”

“The worker in question was granted a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) card last Friday by federal authorities and the company can end this dispute right now by offering him his job back,“ MUA Deputy Secretary Will Tracey said.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: MUApicket linesolidarityVICTunion bustingworkplace bullying
Categories: Labor News

China's Silk Road, One Belt One Road "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" Privatizing More Ports Around the World

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:53

China's Silk Road, One Belt One Road "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" Privatizing More Ports Around the World
Sri Lanka, Struggling With Debt, Hands a Major Port to China
" In recent months, however, there have been signs that China’s partners are starting to become wary over the terms being dictated to build projects under the One Road banner. Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have all recently cancelled or sidelined major hydroelectricity projects planned by Chinese companies. The projects would have been worth a total of $20bn.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/world/asia/sri-lanka-china-port.html?...

查看简体中文版 查看繁體中文版
By KAI SCHULTZDEC. 12, 2017
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The Hambantota port on Sri Lanka’s southern coast. China has been shoring up its presence in the Indian Ocean. CreditLakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
NEW DELHI — Struggling to pay its debt to Chinese firms, the nation of Sri Lanka formally handed over the strategic port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease last week, in a deal that government critics have said threatens the country’s sovereignty.

In recent years, China has shored up its presence in the Indian Ocean, investing billions of dollars to build port facilities and plan maritime trade routes as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to help increase its market reach.

Along the way, smaller countries like Sri Lanka have found themselves owing debts they cannot pay. Sri Lanka owes more than $8 billion to state-controlled Chinese firms, officials say.

Sri Lankan politicians said the Hambantota deal, valued at $1.1 billion, was necessary to chip away at the debt, but analysts warned of the consequences of signing away too much control to China.

“The price being paid for reducing the China debt could prove more costly than the debt burden Sri Lanka seeks to reduce,” said N. Sathiya Moorthy, a senior fellow specializing in Sri Lanka at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.Sri Lanka has long been in India’s orbit, but its relationship with China has strengthened in recent years. As Western nations accused Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former president, of grievous human rights abuses during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s nearly 26-year civil war, China extended billions of dollars of loans to Mr. Rajapaksa’s government for new infrastructure projects.

In July, the state-controlled China Merchants Port Holdings Company signed a deal with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to control a 70 percent stake in the Hambantota port, which lies on the southern coast of the country.

Last Friday, Sri Lanka’s Parliament voted to grant tax concessions to a joint venture led by China to develop the port. On Saturday, the government completed the handover of the port to two state-controlled entities run through China Merchants Port Holdings, which has already made its first payment of $300 million to the Sri Lankan government.

“With this agreement, we have started to pay back the loans,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an address to Parliament. “There will be an economic zone and industrialization in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism.”

Critics said the lease could set a precedent for Sri Lanka and other countries that owe money to China to accept deals that involve the signing over of territory. After the original port deal was signed in July, Namal Rajapaksa, a member of Parliament and son of the former president, asked on Twitter whether the government was “playing geopolitics with national assets.”

Perceiving a threat to its regional hegemony, India has also watched with suspicion as cranes operated by Chinese firms began to dot the skyline in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. To reset the imbalance, India has partnered with Japan to develop a port on Sri Lanka’s eastern coastline, and it has entered into talks to invest in an airport near Hambantota.

“India has been overwhelmed by China’s offensive in its strategic backyard,” said Constantino Xavier, a fellow at Carnegie India in New Delhi.

But across South Asia, there have been some signs of pushback to Chinese investment, including the recent sidelining of hydropower projects in Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Mr. Xavier said Sri Lanka’s dependency on China has alarmed some countries. “Countries in the region are beginning to realize the long-term costs of Beijing’s massive investment promises,” he said.

China signs 99-year lease on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port

Critics denounce move as an erosion of country’s sovereignty
https://www.ft.com/content/e150ef0c-de37-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c

China signs 99-year lease on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port Critics denounce move as an erosion of country’s sovereignty Read next Manufacturers respond to health edicts in food and drink recipes For Beijing the Hambantota port project is a linchpin of the 'One Belt One Road' initiative
Kiran Stacey in New Delhi DECEMBER 11, 2017 4 Sri Lanka has formally handed over its southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease, which government critics have denounced as an erosion of the country’s sovereignty. The $1.3bn port was opened seven years ago using debt from Chinese state-controlled entities. But it has since struggled under heavy losses, making it impossible for Colombo to repay its debts. In 2016, Sri Lankan ministers struck a deal to sell an 80 per cent stake in the port to the state-controlled China Merchants Port Holdings. But that agreement sparked protests from unions and opposition groups, forcing the government to renegotiate it. Under the new plan, signed in July, the Chinese company will hold a 70 per cent stake in a joint venture with the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s prime minister, welcomed the deal during the official handing over ceremony at the weekend. He said: “With this agreement we have started to pay back the loans. Hambantota will be converted to a major port in the Indian Ocean. “There will be an economic zone and industrialisation in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism.” Share this graphic But the renegotiated plan has failed to quell dissent within Sri Lanka. When it was first signed Namal Rajapaksa, Hambantota’s MP and son of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, tweeted: “Government is playing geopolitics with national assets? #stopsellingSL”. For Beijing, the Hambantota project is a linchpin of the “One Belt One Road” project, which aims to build a new Silk Road of trade routes between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. That project is underpinned by a network of harbours across the world that have put China in a position to challenge the US as the world’s most important maritime superpower. Other similar developments in the region include the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is the centrepiece of the $55bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But some have accused Beijing of using projects such as this to increase its regional political power, noting the length of the lease agreed by Sri Lanka is the same as that which gave Britain control over Hong Kong in the 19th century. Constantino Xavier, a fellow at foreign policy think-tank Carnegie, said: “This is part of a larger modus operandi by China in the region. Hambantota port lying virtually empty last month © Simon Mundy “Beijing typically finds a local partner, makes that local partner accept investment plans that are detrimental to their country in the long term, and then uses the debts to either acquire the project altogether or to acquire political leverage in that country.” New Delhi has become so concerned about Beijing’s plans at Hambantota that it has entered talks with Sri Lanka to operate an airport nearby. In recent months, however, there have been signs that China’s partners are starting to become wary over the terms being dictated to build projects under the One Road banner. Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have all recently cancelled or sidelined major hydroelectricity projects planned by Chinese companies. The projects would have been worth a total of $20bn.

Tags: ChinaOne BeltOne RoadSocialism With Chinese Characteristics
Categories: Labor News

China's Silk Road, One Belt One Road "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" Privatizing More Ports Around the World

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:53

China's Silk Road, One Belt One Road "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" Privatizing More Ports Around the World
Sri Lanka, Struggling With Debt, Hands a Major Port to China
" In recent months, however, there have been signs that China’s partners are starting to become wary over the terms being dictated to build projects under the One Road banner. Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have all recently cancelled or sidelined major hydroelectricity projects planned by Chinese companies. The projects would have been worth a total of $20bn.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/world/asia/sri-lanka-china-port.html?...

查看简体中文版 查看繁體中文版
By KAI SCHULTZDEC. 12, 2017
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page

Photo

The Hambantota port on Sri Lanka’s southern coast. China has been shoring up its presence in the Indian Ocean. CreditLakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
NEW DELHI — Struggling to pay its debt to Chinese firms, the nation of Sri Lanka formally handed over the strategic port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease last week, in a deal that government critics have said threatens the country’s sovereignty.

In recent years, China has shored up its presence in the Indian Ocean, investing billions of dollars to build port facilities and plan maritime trade routes as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to help increase its market reach.

Along the way, smaller countries like Sri Lanka have found themselves owing debts they cannot pay. Sri Lanka owes more than $8 billion to state-controlled Chinese firms, officials say.

Sri Lankan politicians said the Hambantota deal, valued at $1.1 billion, was necessary to chip away at the debt, but analysts warned of the consequences of signing away too much control to China.

“The price being paid for reducing the China debt could prove more costly than the debt burden Sri Lanka seeks to reduce,” said N. Sathiya Moorthy, a senior fellow specializing in Sri Lanka at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.Sri Lanka has long been in India’s orbit, but its relationship with China has strengthened in recent years. As Western nations accused Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former president, of grievous human rights abuses during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s nearly 26-year civil war, China extended billions of dollars of loans to Mr. Rajapaksa’s government for new infrastructure projects.

In July, the state-controlled China Merchants Port Holdings Company signed a deal with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to control a 70 percent stake in the Hambantota port, which lies on the southern coast of the country.

Last Friday, Sri Lanka’s Parliament voted to grant tax concessions to a joint venture led by China to develop the port. On Saturday, the government completed the handover of the port to two state-controlled entities run through China Merchants Port Holdings, which has already made its first payment of $300 million to the Sri Lankan government.

“With this agreement, we have started to pay back the loans,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an address to Parliament. “There will be an economic zone and industrialization in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism.”

Critics said the lease could set a precedent for Sri Lanka and other countries that owe money to China to accept deals that involve the signing over of territory. After the original port deal was signed in July, Namal Rajapaksa, a member of Parliament and son of the former president, asked on Twitter whether the government was “playing geopolitics with national assets.”

Perceiving a threat to its regional hegemony, India has also watched with suspicion as cranes operated by Chinese firms began to dot the skyline in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. To reset the imbalance, India has partnered with Japan to develop a port on Sri Lanka’s eastern coastline, and it has entered into talks to invest in an airport near Hambantota.

“India has been overwhelmed by China’s offensive in its strategic backyard,” said Constantino Xavier, a fellow at Carnegie India in New Delhi.

But across South Asia, there have been some signs of pushback to Chinese investment, including the recent sidelining of hydropower projects in Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Mr. Xavier said Sri Lanka’s dependency on China has alarmed some countries. “Countries in the region are beginning to realize the long-term costs of Beijing’s massive investment promises,” he said.

China signs 99-year lease on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port

Critics denounce move as an erosion of country’s sovereignty
https://www.ft.com/content/e150ef0c-de37-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c

China signs 99-year lease on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port Critics denounce move as an erosion of country’s sovereignty Read next Manufacturers respond to health edicts in food and drink recipes For Beijing the Hambantota port project is a linchpin of the 'One Belt One Road' initiative
Kiran Stacey in New Delhi DECEMBER 11, 2017 4 Sri Lanka has formally handed over its southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease, which government critics have denounced as an erosion of the country’s sovereignty. The $1.3bn port was opened seven years ago using debt from Chinese state-controlled entities. But it has since struggled under heavy losses, making it impossible for Colombo to repay its debts. In 2016, Sri Lankan ministers struck a deal to sell an 80 per cent stake in the port to the state-controlled China Merchants Port Holdings. But that agreement sparked protests from unions and opposition groups, forcing the government to renegotiate it. Under the new plan, signed in July, the Chinese company will hold a 70 per cent stake in a joint venture with the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s prime minister, welcomed the deal during the official handing over ceremony at the weekend. He said: “With this agreement we have started to pay back the loans. Hambantota will be converted to a major port in the Indian Ocean. “There will be an economic zone and industrialisation in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism.” Share this graphic But the renegotiated plan has failed to quell dissent within Sri Lanka. When it was first signed Namal Rajapaksa, Hambantota’s MP and son of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, tweeted: “Government is playing geopolitics with national assets? #stopsellingSL”. For Beijing, the Hambantota project is a linchpin of the “One Belt One Road” project, which aims to build a new Silk Road of trade routes between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. That project is underpinned by a network of harbours across the world that have put China in a position to challenge the US as the world’s most important maritime superpower. Other similar developments in the region include the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is the centrepiece of the $55bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But some have accused Beijing of using projects such as this to increase its regional political power, noting the length of the lease agreed by Sri Lanka is the same as that which gave Britain control over Hong Kong in the 19th century. Constantino Xavier, a fellow at foreign policy think-tank Carnegie, said: “This is part of a larger modus operandi by China in the region. Hambantota port lying virtually empty last month © Simon Mundy “Beijing typically finds a local partner, makes that local partner accept investment plans that are detrimental to their country in the long term, and then uses the debts to either acquire the project altogether or to acquire political leverage in that country.” New Delhi has become so concerned about Beijing’s plans at Hambantota that it has entered talks with Sri Lanka to operate an airport nearby. In recent months, however, there have been signs that China’s partners are starting to become wary over the terms being dictated to build projects under the One Road banner. Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have all recently cancelled or sidelined major hydroelectricity projects planned by Chinese companies. The projects would have been worth a total of $20bn.

Tags: ChinaOne BeltOne RoadSocialism With Chinese Characteristics
Categories: Labor News

NTSB blames captain, bad safety culture for loss of El Faro

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:11

NTSB blames captain, bad safety culture for loss of El Faro
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ntsb-issue-probable-el-faros-sinking-...
By JASON DEAREN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dec 12, 2017, 6:08 PM ET

The Associated Press
WATCH Discovered Data Recorder May Shed Light On the Mystery of El Faro
A ship captain's unwillingness to listen to his crew's suggestions to change course from the path of a raging hurricane. A weak corporate safety culture that left crewmembers ill-prepared to deal with heavy weather. An old ship with outdated lifeboats, open to the elements.

All these factors contributed to the sinking of the El Faro in the fury of Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, 2015, which killed all 33 people on board, the National Transportation Safety Board announced on Tuesday. The report concludes a 2-year investigation into the worst U.S. maritime disaster in modern history.

The NTSB issued 53 safety recommendations along with its findings, which investigators hope will be adopted by the industry, maritime safety inspectors and weather forecasters to make the seas safer for future generations.

"I hope that this tragedy at sea can serve as a lighthouse to guide the safety of marine transportation," said Robert Sumwalt, the board's chairman.

The El Faro, which means lighthouse in Spanish, sank between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico after losing engine power in the Category 3 storm. The NTSB retrieved the ship's voyage data recorder, or "black box," from the sea floor near the Bahamas, 15,000-feet (4,570 meters) under the surface. The device held 26 hours of data, including audio of conversations on the ship's bridge as the frantic crew struggled to save the ship and themselves.

While the board found no fault with El Faro Capt. Michael Davidson's decision to leave port in Jacksonville, they did blame his reliance on an emailed weather forecasting system that contained hours-old data, rather than online updates from the National Hurricane Center. Investigators believe, based on his decisions and recorded comments, that he wasn't aware of the delay in the data, and that instead of skirting the storm, he sent the El Faro on a collision course with the hurricane.

"Although up-to-date weather information was available on the ship, the El Faro captain did not use the most current weather information for decision-making," NTSB investigator Mike Kucharski said at the meeting, held in Washington, D.C. "The captain did not take sufficient action to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, thereby putting El Faro and its crew in peril."

The board also criticized the "weak safety culture" of ship owner TOTE Maritime, Inc., including the lack of employee training for dealing with heavy weather situations and flooding. A hatch had been left open, allowing water from the roiling sea to flood an interior hold; this led to the ship tilting, disrupting the flow of oil to the engines. Once the freighter lost engine power, it was at the mercy of battering swells.

Also, the ship's wind gauge, called an anemometer, was broken and the 40-year-old freighter's open-top lifeboats would not have protected the crew, even if they had been able to launch them. The El Faro was legally allowed to carry lifeboats that expose people to the elements — just like the lifeboats on the Titanic and the Lusitania — due to safety-rule exemptions for older ships.

Whether the crew could have survived Joaquin's punishing winds and high seas had the El Faro been equipped with the closed-top lifeboats used by newer ships is unknown, but NTSB safety investigator Jon Furukawa said it could have helped crewmembers fighting for their lives .

"We believe that would've been the best method of departing the vessel under these conditions. It is still challenging, and we don't know if they would've survived," Furukawa said. "But enclosed lifeboats are the current standard and the El Faro did not have the current standard."

The board is not only recommending closed-top boats for all merchant ships, but also that the entire industry require crewmembers to carry personal locator beacons to better locate them during marine emergencies.

The El Faro had an older emergency position-indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB, which did not transmit global position system coordinates, and that made locating the ship more difficult for search-and-rescue crews. Given the heavy weather, rescuers probably couldn't have reached the ship any sooner, but the board believes the new requirement would help in future sea accidents.

The NTSB's draft recommendations are not law, but are used to guide industry changes or updates to existing safety procedures overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard and so-called "classification societies" like the American Bureau of Shipping, which conducts a large percentage of marine inspections on the Guard's behalf. The recommendations also can be used by Congress to create new laws meant to improve safety.

Larry Brennan, a maritime law professor at Fordham Law School and retired U.S. Navy captain, said the NTSB's recommendations highlighted major safety problems in the entire industry, including the Coast Guard and classification societies that are in charge of inspecting vessels for safety.

"El Faro was a worn, aged ship which succumbed to heavy weather in large part because of multiple unseaworthy conditions, poor leadership and bad decisions by the captain, American Bureau of Shipping, the owners as well as inadequate surveys and inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard," Brennan said.

——

Follow Jason Dearen on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen

Tags: NTSBsafetyEl Faro deathsEl Faro sinking
Categories: Labor News

California judge rules COSCO-affiliated port truckers were misclassified

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:14

California judge rules COSCO-affiliated port truckers were misclassified
https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/port-truck-driver-misclassification...
AUTHOR

Jennifer McKevitt
@mckvt
PUBLISHED

Dec. 6, 2017
Dive Brief:

In a driver misclassification case, Judge Dickie Montemayor ruled against Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT), stating the company violated federal law by engaging in unfair labor practices, including misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, Trucks.com reported.
IBT is a subsidiary of the Chinese-owned COSCO Group. In Montemayor's ruling, the company was also ordered to cease and desist from behavior that includes interrogating, threatening or coercing employees who support union membership at its Wilmington, Calif. terminal.
California truckers have filed more than 800 wage claims, alleging they have been misclassified as independent contractors since 2011, and have been awarded roughly $40 million in compensation across 300 cases as a result.
Story continues below

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Recognition and favorable litigation toward misclassified drivers is growing, with legal tolerance correspondingly shrinking. In Los Angeles, the port of L.A. is considering blocking access to companies relying on contract labor, while companies such as Celadon and Swift have moved to mitigate the risk by turning away from using owner operators in the case of Celadon, or are setting aside large cash reserves should a negative ruling occur in the case of Swift.

Differing legal views of the situation are common.

"By misclassifying the drivers, IBT is preventing the individuals taking concerted activity, and depriving them of rights that employees are entitled to under the National Labor Relations Act," Jordan Schwartz, Partner, Labor and Employment Practice at Conn Maciel Carey LLP told Supply Chain Dive.

In other words, by denying the drivers the right to talk about working conditions or form a union, protections they would otherwise be entitled to, were they not misclassified, have been infringed upon.

Other attorneys attribute at least some of the emerging precedents to location.

"California is all over this issue," David Ritter, Partner at Barnes and Thornburg, LLP told Supply Chain Dive. "They're digging in, because the state and federal government are not receiving their fair share of taxes."

Ritter further notes the specific conditions of the case.

"IBT had full control over the means and the manner of work performed by the drivers," he said. "They established the rules, and when those rules were broken, drivers were disciplined."

"In fact, IBT even tried to cover its tracks by changing some of the contract wording," he added, "which further implicated the company. This is a situation where the black letter of the law is applied: in other words, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are, it's a duck."

Tags: CoscoPort Truckers Misclassified
Categories: Labor News

Another Worker Death Underscores ‘Atrocious Safety Record’ at Hutchison Terminal in Jakarta

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:47

Another Worker Death Underscores ‘Atrocious Safety Record’ at Hutchison Terminal in Jakarta
http://gcaptain.com/itf-another-worker-death-underscores-atrocious-safet...

December 11, 2017 by gCaptain

container terminal
Photo: By tcly / Shutterstock
Another worker has died in an accident at the Hutchison terminal in Jakarta, marking the fourth fatality in just the past 15 months at the terminal, the International Transport Workers’ Federation has reported.

The incident is the latest to underscore the what the ITF described as an “atrocious” safety record at the Hutchison terminal.

“We are shocked and alarmed by the continuing carnage at the Hutchison’s terminal in Jakarta. Two workers have died within two months, and four within the past 15 months. This is an atrocious record that speaks for itself,” said Nova Hakim, chair of the Serikat Pekerja Jakarta International Container Terminal (SPJICT).

While details of the accident are unclear, the ITF said the worker died as the result of a fall.

The ITF and SPJICT are calling on the company to conduct an official inquiry into the death and the circumstance “surrounding how the worker fell overboard,” the ITF said in a statement.

“Hutchison needs to answer serious questions,” commented ITF president, Paddy Crumlin. “Was this man provided with adequate fall protection? Was the outboard fencing on this vessel complete and compliant with international and class standards?

“Falls from height – and falls overboard – are 100% preventable. On a modern vessel, there is no reason why a worker should die from a fall from height with proper inspections, proper management of the work environment, proper equipment and engineering controls.

“When a person falls overboard, management are often quick to blame the worker. We need to dig deeper to find the root causes of this horrible tragedy,” Crumlin said.

Tags: death in Jakartahealth and safetyHutchison Terminal Jakarta
Categories: Labor News

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:22

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike
http://www.twincities.com/2017/12/11/metro-transit-workers-rally-as-nego...
By RYAN FAIRCLOTH | rfaircloth@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
December 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Around 70 unionized transit workers assembled at a Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting in Minneapolis Monday to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute.

Job safety, arduous schedules and employee benefits were among many concerns raised by the Metro Transit workers. The demonstration coincided with a new round of contract negotiations in St. Paul between the Met Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 that extended into the early evening.

“We care about getting a decent and fair contract, and we’re willing to fight to have a fair contract. It just seems a shame that we are not treated like the backbone to this company,” said Metro Transit bus driver Theresa Collins, who attended the demonstration.

Unionized transit operators and support personnel rejected the Met Council’s contract offer in November, citing operator safety as a main concern. Assaults on Twin Cities bus and light-rail operators have grown more common over the past five years. In 2016, 162 assaults were reported among more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators.

Collins has driven Metro Transit buses for 29 years. She said she’s been assaulted, spat on and threatened during her career.

“Driver assault is really big on the forefront right now for all of us,” Collins said. “I personally think that every driver that’s going to retire from this company will have been assaulted at least one time in their career.”

Union workers have called for Metro Transit to retrofit buses with protective driver enclosures in response to assault concerns, and have threatened to strike during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl if their demands aren’t met. The transit agency announced Dec. 1 that protective shields would be installed in 20 buses in the coming weeks as part of a pilot test.

David Dittbenner, a Metro Transit mechanic who attended the demonstration, said workers deserve a contract that offers better wages, benefits and scheduling.

Despite working for Metro Transit for 16 years, he said he isn’t able to get full weekends off from work.“We’re here for a better contract than what they originally offered,” Dittbenner said.

Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said the two parties made progress in negotiations Monday.

“On some things we’ve come closer to each other, and there’s a few key points where we’re not there yet as far as coming to an agreement,” he said.

Transit workers presented the Met Council with an updated proposal Monday evening, Lawson said, adding that a mediator will return with a response from Metro Transit by the end of the week.

He said he’s hopeful an agreement will be reached before a potential Super Bowl strike.

Tags: ATU 1005health and safetycontract rights
Categories: Labor News

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:22

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike
http://www.twincities.com/2017/12/11/metro-transit-workers-rally-as-nego...
By RYAN FAIRCLOTH | rfaircloth@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
December 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Around 70 unionized transit workers assembled at a Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting in Minneapolis Monday to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute.

Job safety, arduous schedules and employee benefits were among many concerns raised by the Metro Transit workers. The demonstration coincided with a new round of contract negotiations in St. Paul between the Met Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 that extended into the early evening.

“We care about getting a decent and fair contract, and we’re willing to fight to have a fair contract. It just seems a shame that we are not treated like the backbone to this company,” said Metro Transit bus driver Theresa Collins, who attended the demonstration.

Unionized transit operators and support personnel rejected the Met Council’s contract offer in November, citing operator safety as a main concern. Assaults on Twin Cities bus and light-rail operators have grown more common over the past five years. In 2016, 162 assaults were reported among more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators.

Collins has driven Metro Transit buses for 29 years. She said she’s been assaulted, spat on and threatened during her career.

“Driver assault is really big on the forefront right now for all of us,” Collins said. “I personally think that every driver that’s going to retire from this company will have been assaulted at least one time in their career.”

Union workers have called for Metro Transit to retrofit buses with protective driver enclosures in response to assault concerns, and have threatened to strike during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl if their demands aren’t met. The transit agency announced Dec. 1 that protective shields would be installed in 20 buses in the coming weeks as part of a pilot test.

David Dittbenner, a Metro Transit mechanic who attended the demonstration, said workers deserve a contract that offers better wages, benefits and scheduling.

Despite working for Metro Transit for 16 years, he said he isn’t able to get full weekends off from work.“We’re here for a better contract than what they originally offered,” Dittbenner said.

Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said the two parties made progress in negotiations Monday.

“On some things we’ve come closer to each other, and there’s a few key points where we’re not there yet as far as coming to an agreement,” he said.

Transit workers presented the Met Council with an updated proposal Monday evening, Lawson said, adding that a mediator will return with a response from Metro Transit by the end of the week.

He said he’s hopeful an agreement will be reached before a potential Super Bowl strike.

Tags: ATU 1005health and safetycontract rights
Categories: Labor News

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 23:23

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/12/10/Tunisians-declare-boycott-of...

Short url
TUNIS, (PIC) +-
A Tunisian labor union on Sunday evening announced its decision to boycott U.S. ships docking at a seaport in the country’s southern region of Sfax following Trump’s recognition, on Wednesday, of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Spokesman of the Popular Conference for the Palestinians Abroad, Ziad al-Aloul, said on Facebook that the regional executive office of Tunisia’s Trade Unions decided to boycott all American ships docking at Sfax commercial harbor.

As part of the boycott move, workers at the seaport will not empty the shipments onboard boats tied up at Sfax seaport after they had set sail from the U.S.

Prior to the boycott, mass rallies had swept Tunisia with thousands of protesters holding up Palestinian flags and banners. Protesters also burned the U.S. flag and others stepped on images of Israeli flags.

Tags: labor boycott of USPalestiniansTunisian unions
Categories: Labor News

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 23:23

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/12/10/Tunisians-declare-boycott-of...

Short url
TUNIS, (PIC) +-
A Tunisian labor union on Sunday evening announced its decision to boycott U.S. ships docking at a seaport in the country’s southern region of Sfax following Trump’s recognition, on Wednesday, of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Spokesman of the Popular Conference for the Palestinians Abroad, Ziad al-Aloul, said on Facebook that the regional executive office of Tunisia’s Trade Unions decided to boycott all American ships docking at Sfax commercial harbor.

As part of the boycott move, workers at the seaport will not empty the shipments onboard boats tied up at Sfax seaport after they had set sail from the U.S.

Prior to the boycott, mass rallies had swept Tunisia with thousands of protesters holding up Palestinian flags and banners. Protesters also burned the U.S. flag and others stepped on images of Israeli flags.

Tags: labor boycott of USPalestiniansTunisian unions
Categories: Labor News

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 18:01

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/237439/melbournes-vict-grinds-to-...

Over 1,000 containers are kept motionless at Port of Melbourne’s container terminal at Web Dock after members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) walked off the job amid an industrial dispute.

Workers have been picketing at the Webb Dock for two weeks due to an ongoing dispute involving a casual worker who was denied a security clearance because of a criminal record.

Anders Dommestrup, Chief Executive of Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), said the union officials organising the picket at Webb Dock were demanding that VICT offer work to an MUA member with a criminal record that “makes it illegal for him to work in the secure areas at Webb Dock under Federal law.”

According to Dommestrup, the individual in question started working as a casual employee in November 2016 and applied for a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) in February this year.

“He was notified in March that he had failed to gain an MSIC and informed VICT of this in November, after which VICT informed him he would no longer be offered shifts due to these circumstances,” he added.

Dommestrup stressed that the picket is having a huge impact on many small and medium-sized businesses, putting perishable goods at risk, damaging Victoria’s reputation and giving Sydney’s Port Botany a competitive leg-up.

“It’s time the officials abandon the picket, allow VICT staff back on site, stop preventing trucks entering and leaving the site and permit Victoria’s importers and exporters to start doing business again.

“The MUA is party to VICT’s enterprise agreement and this means that they approved it,” he continued.

The protest has resulted in ships being diverted to Adelaide and other Victorian ports, endangering over AUSD 100 million worth of business, local media reported.

The Port of Melbourne risks becoming an international laughing stock if industrial action that has shut
down VICT for the past 10 days is permitted to continue, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) warned.

“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA over what we now understand is a legal reason for this individual being ineligible for employment at the docks,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.

“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states, at a massive cost to our economy,” Anderson said.

Anderson called on all stakeholders involved in the action to “put the interests of the Victorian economy first and work constructively to bring an end to industrial action.”

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Separately, MUA has announced industrial action of its members working on pilot cutters operated by the Port Authority from Port Jackson and Port Botany on December 13.

The industrial action is being pursued as the Port Authority of New South Wales and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and MUA failed to reach a deal on a replacement Enterprise Agreement for its Sydney workforce. Talks on the new deal are ongoing since February 2017.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: MUAMelbourne VICT Strike
Categories: Labor News

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 18:01

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/237439/melbournes-vict-grinds-to-...

Over 1,000 containers are kept motionless at Port of Melbourne’s container terminal at Web Dock after members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) walked off the job amid an industrial dispute.

Workers have been picketing at the Webb Dock for two weeks due to an ongoing dispute involving a casual worker who was denied a security clearance because of a criminal record.

Anders Dommestrup, Chief Executive of Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), said the union officials organising the picket at Webb Dock were demanding that VICT offer work to an MUA member with a criminal record that “makes it illegal for him to work in the secure areas at Webb Dock under Federal law.”

According to Dommestrup, the individual in question started working as a casual employee in November 2016 and applied for a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) in February this year.

“He was notified in March that he had failed to gain an MSIC and informed VICT of this in November, after which VICT informed him he would no longer be offered shifts due to these circumstances,” he added.

Dommestrup stressed that the picket is having a huge impact on many small and medium-sized businesses, putting perishable goods at risk, damaging Victoria’s reputation and giving Sydney’s Port Botany a competitive leg-up.

“It’s time the officials abandon the picket, allow VICT staff back on site, stop preventing trucks entering and leaving the site and permit Victoria’s importers and exporters to start doing business again.

“The MUA is party to VICT’s enterprise agreement and this means that they approved it,” he continued.

The protest has resulted in ships being diverted to Adelaide and other Victorian ports, endangering over AUSD 100 million worth of business, local media reported.

The Port of Melbourne risks becoming an international laughing stock if industrial action that has shut
down VICT for the past 10 days is permitted to continue, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) warned.

“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA over what we now understand is a legal reason for this individual being ineligible for employment at the docks,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.

“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states, at a massive cost to our economy,” Anderson said.

Anderson called on all stakeholders involved in the action to “put the interests of the Victorian economy first and work constructively to bring an end to industrial action.”

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Separately, MUA has announced industrial action of its members working on pilot cutters operated by the Port Authority from Port Jackson and Port Botany on December 13.

The industrial action is being pursued as the Port Authority of New South Wales and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and MUA failed to reach a deal on a replacement Enterprise Agreement for its Sydney workforce. Talks on the new deal are ongoing since February 2017.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: MUAMelbourne VICT Strike
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 Jackie Jeter is still Metro union president

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:00

ATU 689 Jackie Jeter is still Metro union president
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/12/07/jackie-jet...
by Martine Powers December 7
Jackie L. Jeter, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, was reelected to complete her fourth three-year term as head of the union. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
Members of Metro’s largest union voted Wednesday to reelect Jackie L. Jeter president, in a special election that was monitored by the Department of Labor after accusations of election fraud.

In a statement Thursday, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 said Jeter garnered 68 percent of the vote from members who participated — “a wider margin than the first election in December of 2015,” the union noted in its news release.

The other four major leaders of the union were also reelected.

The special election was mandated earlier this year, after a federal judge voided the December 2015 election results, saying union representatives had failed to address allegations that they had flouted rules for election eligibility. A lawsuit filed against the union by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez alleged that Jeter and others allowed a select list of members to pay their membership dues late and re-gain their eligibility to run for office.

The lawsuit also alleged that the union violated federal regulations, and its own bylaws, by sending election notices to members in the mail one day later than the 15-day advance-notice deadline.Jeter and others denied those accusations. But the Department of Labor motioned for new elections, and U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel granted the request.

According to the unofficial tally, Jeter received 2,886 votes in Wednesday’s election, over 2,000 votes more than either of her two opponents.

“One thing that everyone at Local 689, and throughout this region, can agree on is that Metro is at a breaking point,” Jeter said. “I am thankful to the membership for reelecting me and allowing me to continue my service to our members as we stand together to make Local 689 a more perfect union and Metro a better system.”

Normal terms for union leadership are three years long, and the next regularly-scheduled election will take place in December 2018.

Tags: ATU 698election
Categories: Labor News

East Coast ILA Dockworkers Walk Out of Labor Talks over automation issues

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 20:33

East Coast ILA Dockworkers Walk Out of Labor Talks over automation issues
Union members rankled by discussion of automation; ‘I was absolutely shocked’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/dockworkers-walk-out-of-labor-talks-1512687779

The Port of Savannah PHOTO: STEPHEN B. MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Jennifer Smith
Dec. 7, 2017 6:02 p.m. ET
4 COMMENTS
Labor negotiations between employers and unionized dockworkers at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports got off to a rocky start this week after union leaders walked out of contract-extension talks.

The main point of disagreement was about how ports define automation, according to the International Longshoremen’s Association. Earlier this year the union’s president, Harold Daggett, said the issue of job losses due to technology would be central during negotiations to extend the current contract, which expires in September 2018. He has pledged to prevent container terminals from automating to the same degree as many European ports.

The ILA and the United States Maritime Alliance Ltd., or USMX, which represents terminal operators and container shipping lines at ports from Maine to Texas, had agreed to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Hollywood, Fla., but ended talks early on the second day.

“They got upset about some discussions we were having around automation and then they left,” said David Adam, USMX’s chief executive. “I was absolutely shocked.”

This week’s meeting was meant to pave the way for an extension. A deal would put East Coast ports on a more even footing with ports on the West Coast, which compete for some of the same freight. West Coast employers and dockworkers in August agreed to extend a separate labor contract through 2022, giving retailers and manufacturers more certainty that cargo shipped there won’t get delayed by walkouts or slowdowns, which have dogged past negotiations.

A union spokesman said the dockworkers’ representatives disagreed with how USMX wanted to define what constitutes a fully automated terminal.

“ILA suggested language that any unmanned equipment would be considered automated,” spokesman James McNamara said. The union was “definitely frustrated and not happy,” he said. “We weren’t able to get the assurances and the language we felt comfortable with to move forward,” so Mr. Daggett instructed the delegates to go back to their ports and resume local bargaining.

The breakdown follows tensions earlier this year at East Coast gateways like South Carolina’s Port of Charleston, where a labor slowdown jammed truck traffic at one terminal. The head of the local union there also called for a one-day shutdown of ports from Maine to Texas so members could rally in Washington, D.C., over jobs lost to automation and the use of nonunion labor, though Mr. Daggett asked members to hold off on the proposed walkout.

The early end to the meeting was reported earlier by the Journal of Commerce.

USMX has issued a statement saying it expects the talks to continue “at some point in the future.”

It isn’t clear when the next formal meeting will take place. There are about 10 months left on the contract, which provides for some wiggle room.

“Typically the East Coast [union] is not as bad as the West Coast,” said Frank Guenzerodt, chief executive of Dachser USA Air & Sea Logistics Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of German logistics firm Dachser SE. “I kind of trust in them to actually reach an agreement and not run into a strike.” ​

Still, the breakdown of talks increases pressure on East Coast port associations and terminal operators that saw more cargo flow their way during the earlier West Coast labor battle.

“We strongly urge both sides to return to the bargaining table and reach an equitable agreement,” a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in an email.

Tags: ILAcontract fightAutomationContract
Categories: Labor News

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:45

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

The decision not to carry a passenger was made on a 'case-by-case decision', says Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/german-pilots-refuse-depo...

Jon Sharman Thursday 7 December 2017 07:01 GMT

Pilots have stopped 222 deportations of asylum seekers from Germany by refusing to take off with them on board.

Many of the pilots refused to take control of flights taking people back to Afghanistan, where violence is still rife following years of war and occupation by Western forces.

One of the airlines involved said pilots made the decisions on a "case-by-case" basis if they believed "flight safety could be affected".

Between January and September, a total of 222 planned deportations were classified to have "failed" due to pilot refusal, according to German government figures. Most – 140 – occurred at Frankfurt airport. Others refused to fly from Cologne-Bonn airport. Germany has deemed Afghanistan a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

The figures were obtained by the Die Linke political party, which is commonly referred to as the Left Party.

Some of the flights belonged to Lufthansa and its subsidiary, Eurowings.

The decision not to carry a passenger, was ultimately down to the pilot on a "case-by-case decision", Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty told the Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung newspaper which originally reported the story.

He added: "If he has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger.

"Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board."

German publication RBB24 quoted a Lufthansa pilot who did not want to be identified as saying pilots would normally refuse to take off if a potential deportee answers "no" when asked if they want to take the flight.

"We have to prevent anyone from being freaked out during the flight, and we have to protect the other passengers as well," the pilot reportedly said.

Pilots can face disciplinary measures if they refuse to fly on moral grounds.

Lufthansa Group spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf told RBB24 that he was not aware of "any case where one of our pilots has refused to take them for reasons of conscience".

Germany processed more asylum applications than all 27 other EU countries combined. European statistics agency Eurostat, said the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) decided 388,201 asylum cases in the first six months of 2017.

Tags: pilotsimmigrationasylumlufthansaimmigration rights
Categories: Labor News

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:45

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

The decision not to carry a passenger was made on a 'case-by-case decision', says Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/german-pilots-refuse-depo...

Jon Sharman Thursday 7 December 2017 07:01 GMT

Pilots have stopped 222 deportations of asylum seekers from Germany by refusing to take off with them on board.

Many of the pilots refused to take control of flights taking people back to Afghanistan, where violence is still rife following years of war and occupation by Western forces.

One of the airlines involved said pilots made the decisions on a "case-by-case" basis if they believed "flight safety could be affected".

Between January and September, a total of 222 planned deportations were classified to have "failed" due to pilot refusal, according to German government figures. Most – 140 – occurred at Frankfurt airport. Others refused to fly from Cologne-Bonn airport. Germany has deemed Afghanistan a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

The figures were obtained by the Die Linke political party, which is commonly referred to as the Left Party.

Some of the flights belonged to Lufthansa and its subsidiary, Eurowings.

The decision not to carry a passenger, was ultimately down to the pilot on a "case-by-case decision", Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty told the Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung newspaper which originally reported the story.

He added: "If he has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger.

"Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board."

German publication RBB24 quoted a Lufthansa pilot who did not want to be identified as saying pilots would normally refuse to take off if a potential deportee answers "no" when asked if they want to take the flight.

"We have to prevent anyone from being freaked out during the flight, and we have to protect the other passengers as well," the pilot reportedly said.

Pilots can face disciplinary measures if they refuse to fly on moral grounds.

Lufthansa Group spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf told RBB24 that he was not aware of "any case where one of our pilots has refused to take them for reasons of conscience".

Germany processed more asylum applications than all 27 other EU countries combined. European statistics agency Eurostat, said the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) decided 388,201 asylum cases in the first six months of 2017.

Tags: pilotsimmigrationasylumlufthansaimmigration rights
Categories: Labor News

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