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Brazil’s Stevedores, Government Agree to Talk
Brazilian dockworkers have suspended plans to hold a second strike in as many weeks, while government officials meet with union officials to discuss the government’s new port reform plan.
Dockworkers walked out for a six-hour shift on Friday, Feb. 22, in protest over a plan to sell 159 terminals at 24 public ports to private investors. The sale is part of a government reform initiative intended to reorganize port management and labor regulations to increase competition and port productivity.
Unionized laborers fear the government’s drive to boost competition by opening the door to more private ownership will lead to job losses, wage cuts, and reduced benefits.
An estimated 30,000 stevedores walked out on strike at 36 ports between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 22.
The strike deterred 17 of 26 vessels from loading or discharging cargo at the Port of Santos, according to an international wire service.
Before the strike, a work stoppage was estimated to cost Santos Brasil, the largest terminal operator at the Port of Santos, as much as BRL4 million (US$2 million) a day, according to Mauro Salgado, chief commercial officer at Santos Brasil.
After government officials agreed to suspend the BRL197,220 (US$100,000) daily fine for strikes, and other concessions, union officials pledged to suspend a second strike planned this week.
Government officials also agreed to negotiate with union representatives and postpone any bidding process for the terminal sales until March 15. In return , union officials pledged to postpone any further strikes until March 15.