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Strikes in Latin American ports affect performance

Strikes in Latin American ports affect performance
An analysis by The United Nation Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) paints an "alarming" picture of strikes in the regional port sector in its February 2014 maritime and Logistics Newsletter.

The analysis by Ricardo J Sanchez head of  ECLAC’s Infrastructure and Services Unit (ISU) in Santiago, Chile, has reviewed the period from 2010 to January 2014 in 12 countries of the region.

It found that in this roughly four-year period, a total of 312 port days were lost to strikes. Disputes over wages and/or working conditions accounted for 76% of the strike days, opposition to outsourcing for 10% and opposition to outright privatisation another 7%. The balance is made up of disputes over job reinstatement and trucking tariffs.  

No fewer than 146 strike days (46%) occurred in ports in Chile, although the country's very recent strike record largely explains this. Perhaps surprisingly, in view of some very high profile vessel "occupations" by dockworkers in Brazil, that country accounts for only 5% of the strike days. Argentina accounted for 15%, Peru 12% and Panama 8%, says the report.

"The observed data open the door to a discussion of how strikes have impacted the relationships within the ports regarding the management, the response of governments and unions," notes ISU. "The discussion is ongoing and finding a solution is essential to improve port performance of the region." More than 95% of foreign trade in the UN-ECLAC region moves through ports, and overall port performance needs to be improved. 

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