Home » Ports/Terminals » Big North Harbor strike looms

LOCAL shipping lines are threatening to stage a strike simultaneous with another mass action planned by port workers currently undergoing mediation at the labor department.

An executive of one of the country’s largest cargo carriers told PortCalls more aggressive measures are needed to force new North Harbor operator Manila North Harbour Port, Inc (MNHPI) to enhance operations at the facility at the soonest time possible. Since MNHPI’s takeover of the North Harbor on April 11, the port has been dogged by problems of lack of equipment which have delayed operations of port users.

An earlier strike threat was made by port workers spearheaded by Pier 8 Arrastre. The workers filed a notice of strike before the Department of Labor and Employment to compel MNHPI to pay past benefits under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between port workers and the Philippine Port Authority. MNHPI is refusing to recognize the CBA.

“We are considering a long and wide shipping holiday if MNHPI continues to ignore our complaints and keeps on issuing statements that conditions at the port have already normalized,” the executive, who refused to be identified, said.

The PLSA had earlier tried but failed to stage a shipping holiday a day after MNHPI took over North Harbor. Some PLSA members declined to join the mass action and instead gave MNHPI time to improve port conditions.

“In the meantime, we are really hoping and praying for a favorable Supreme Court decision to avert a looming nationwide transport holiday that will really affect the movement of passengers and cargoes in the country,” the source said.

The Philippine Liner Shipping Association earlier filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate the 25-year management contract of the North Harbor. The petition stems from, among others, a controversial contract provision allowing the application of a 5% concession fee on third-party ancillary services.

The shipping lines are also questioning MNHPI’s failure to provide the minimum cargo-handling equipment prior to the takeover.

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