Home » Ports/Terminals » North Harbor labor row at a standstill; PPA eyes ultimatum

THE labor problem surrounding the Manila North Harbor (MNH) is far from settled. Laborers, mostly members of the port’s biggest labor associations, recently rejected the proposal put forward by the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and new operator Manila North Harbour Port, Inc (MNHPI) to settle the dispute.

Members of the United Dockhandlers, Inc., Pier 8 Arrastre, North Star and the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Pantalan said they are sticking to all of their earlier demands or they will block the turnover of the facility.

These demands are a severance package equivalent to 60 days of their salary for every year of service; re-absorption of all workforce, including mechanics and cigarette vendors, by the new operator; and relocation of informal settlers living within and adjacent to the MNH. On top of these, they will pursue pending labor cases against PPA before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

The workers’ demands “are really unjustified,” MNH port manager Constante Fariñas said in an interview.

“The laborers are lucky that PPA will shoulder their separation pay since if we follow the rules their pay should come from their current employers not from the authority and MNHPI,” Fariñas said.

“We already offered what we think is the best we could offer and it is up to them to decide,” he explained.

“We will be giving the laborers an ultimatum to decide otherwise we will push through with the turnover,” Fariñas said. No date for the ultimatum has been set.

The PPA settlement offer consists of a uniform package equivalent to a 30-day salary per year of service or equivalent to a total of about P130 million that will be paid only to laborers with existing contracts or those with service records.

The port agency said it will not settle the 5% attorney’s fee sought by the workers for their lawyers handling the NLRC case.

Apart from the labor row, PPA is trying to work out an agreement with domestic shipping lines on the imposition of the 5% concession fee on third-party service providers, and the minimum cargo-handling required of MNHPI. Carriers have threatened to file a case against the PPA unless it reverses its decision on the two issues.

The turnover of the management and operation of MNH to MNHPI has been stalled several times, besieged by issues such as MNHPI’s failure to meet the minimum cargo-handling equipment required under the 25-year contract.

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