Costa Rica: Government launches assault against port workers’ union

Workers fighting privatisation – solidarity messages needed!

Public port authority workers in Costa Rica, and their trade union, SINTRAJAP, are in urgent need of international support. Following the 7 February 2010 general elections, the outgoing neo-liberal administration of Oscar Arias launched an offensive against SINTRAJAP union, which defends the public ownership of the port authority.

During his term of office, the right-wing “social democrat” president, Oscar Arias (PLN), attempted to privatize the country’s ports, in particular the sister ports Limon and Moin. The ports are administered by JAPDEVA, a public agency created to operate the ports and to use the money it raises to promote development and infrastructure works in Limon, one of Costa Rica’s poorest provinces. Supported by the local community, the SINTRAJAP dockers have held two successful strikes against privastisations, and presented their own alternative plans for the modernization and running of the port.

After the Arias administration twice failed to win a majority of workers during mass meetings, they tried to buy the workers off, by promising them 130.000 US dollars, per worker, if they accepted privatization. They also called a meeting, attended by only 20% of the workforce, at which they imposed a new pro-government ‘Board’, in contravention of ILO conventions 87 and 98.

The fake union ‘Board’, created by the Ministry of Work and, backed by the force of police officers, tried to take over SINTRAJAP offices. Hundred of workers blocked their way, and members of the genuine and legally-elected union Board are still occupying and controlling the union’s offices. They have been constant work stoppages in defense of the union.

Please send urgent messages of solidarity to the legally-elected SINTRAJAP Board and to workers defending their ports: soliCR@gmx.net