Home » Ports/Terminals » PLSA files case with SC, threatens shipping holiday

THE Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) last Thursday (April 8, 2010) lifted the suspension order against the takeover of North Harbor by its new operator, paving the way for the facility’s turnover today (April 12, 2010) to Manila North Harbour Port, Inc (MNHPI).

Yesterday, the PPA closed all North Harbor gates to allow for the smooth deployment of MNHPI personnel, particularly in hostile Piers 2 and 10. About 200 policemen were deployed in the area to avert problems with labor groups – already on strike since Thursday — that have been vocal about their disapproval of the takeover, fearing massive loss of jobs.

But even before MNHPI officials can actually move into their new enclave, members of the Philippine Liner Shipping Association (PLSA) filed before the Supreme Court last Thursday a temporary restraining order to prevent the turnover. They also threatened a “shipping holiday” beginning today if the takeover pushes through before several of its grievances are satisfactorily addressed.

The PLSA case seeks to invalidate the North Harbor contract altogether, which includes controversial provisions allowing the imposition of a 5% concession fee on ancillary services, the minimum cargo-handling equipment required of MNHPI, and the labor package for those who will be affected by the takeover.

PLSA earlier claimed the concession fee will raise shipping costs (see related story on SCMAP against North Harbor concession fee). In addition, it said MNHPI has not complied with the contract’s minimum cargo-handling requirement.

MNHPI for its part has been negotiating with individual port workers on a labor package that will eventually lead to their re-employment at the port by MNHPI.

MNHPI last week forged an agreement with one of four labor groups — the Alliance of Port/Transport Workers and Porters — opposed to the turnover. The agreement was signed by labor leader Jake Azores, but this is now being questioned.

In a letter sent to the PPA, the workers said they want the agreement rescinded, claiming they were not consulted beforehand and that the demands agreed to by Azores were less than what was earlier put forward by the PPA.

Under the agreement, MNHPI will absorb about 1,000 workers, and pay them more than P100 million worth of past service benefits as well as an equivalent of 26 days for every year of service.

The other three labor groups — United Dock-handlers, Inc, Pier 8 Arrastre and North Star, expressed dismay over the decision of the Alliance of Port/Transport Workers and Porters to accept the MNHPI offer.

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