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China's Silk Road, One Belt One Road "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" Privatizing More Ports Around the World

Current News - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:53

China's Silk Road, One Belt One Road "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" Privatizing More Ports Around the World
Sri Lanka, Struggling With Debt, Hands a Major Port to China
" In recent months, however, there have been signs that China’s partners are starting to become wary over the terms being dictated to build projects under the One Road banner. Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have all recently cancelled or sidelined major hydroelectricity projects planned by Chinese companies. The projects would have been worth a total of $20bn.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/12/world/asia/sri-lanka-china-port.html?...

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By KAI SCHULTZDEC. 12, 2017
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The Hambantota port on Sri Lanka’s southern coast. China has been shoring up its presence in the Indian Ocean. CreditLakruwan Wanniarachchi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
NEW DELHI — Struggling to pay its debt to Chinese firms, the nation of Sri Lanka formally handed over the strategic port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease last week, in a deal that government critics have said threatens the country’s sovereignty.

In recent years, China has shored up its presence in the Indian Ocean, investing billions of dollars to build port facilities and plan maritime trade routes as part of its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to help increase its market reach.

Along the way, smaller countries like Sri Lanka have found themselves owing debts they cannot pay. Sri Lanka owes more than $8 billion to state-controlled Chinese firms, officials say.

Sri Lankan politicians said the Hambantota deal, valued at $1.1 billion, was necessary to chip away at the debt, but analysts warned of the consequences of signing away too much control to China.

“The price being paid for reducing the China debt could prove more costly than the debt burden Sri Lanka seeks to reduce,” said N. Sathiya Moorthy, a senior fellow specializing in Sri Lanka at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.Sri Lanka has long been in India’s orbit, but its relationship with China has strengthened in recent years. As Western nations accused Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former president, of grievous human rights abuses during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s nearly 26-year civil war, China extended billions of dollars of loans to Mr. Rajapaksa’s government for new infrastructure projects.

In July, the state-controlled China Merchants Port Holdings Company signed a deal with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to control a 70 percent stake in the Hambantota port, which lies on the southern coast of the country.

Last Friday, Sri Lanka’s Parliament voted to grant tax concessions to a joint venture led by China to develop the port. On Saturday, the government completed the handover of the port to two state-controlled entities run through China Merchants Port Holdings, which has already made its first payment of $300 million to the Sri Lankan government.

“With this agreement, we have started to pay back the loans,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in an address to Parliament. “There will be an economic zone and industrialization in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism.”

Critics said the lease could set a precedent for Sri Lanka and other countries that owe money to China to accept deals that involve the signing over of territory. After the original port deal was signed in July, Namal Rajapaksa, a member of Parliament and son of the former president, asked on Twitter whether the government was “playing geopolitics with national assets.”

Perceiving a threat to its regional hegemony, India has also watched with suspicion as cranes operated by Chinese firms began to dot the skyline in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. To reset the imbalance, India has partnered with Japan to develop a port on Sri Lanka’s eastern coastline, and it has entered into talks to invest in an airport near Hambantota.

“India has been overwhelmed by China’s offensive in its strategic backyard,” said Constantino Xavier, a fellow at Carnegie India in New Delhi.

But across South Asia, there have been some signs of pushback to Chinese investment, including the recent sidelining of hydropower projects in Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Mr. Xavier said Sri Lanka’s dependency on China has alarmed some countries. “Countries in the region are beginning to realize the long-term costs of Beijing’s massive investment promises,” he said.

China signs 99-year lease on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port

Critics denounce move as an erosion of country’s sovereignty
https://www.ft.com/content/e150ef0c-de37-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c

China signs 99-year lease on Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port Critics denounce move as an erosion of country’s sovereignty Read next Manufacturers respond to health edicts in food and drink recipes For Beijing the Hambantota port project is a linchpin of the 'One Belt One Road' initiative
Kiran Stacey in New Delhi DECEMBER 11, 2017 4 Sri Lanka has formally handed over its southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease, which government critics have denounced as an erosion of the country’s sovereignty. The $1.3bn port was opened seven years ago using debt from Chinese state-controlled entities. But it has since struggled under heavy losses, making it impossible for Colombo to repay its debts. In 2016, Sri Lankan ministers struck a deal to sell an 80 per cent stake in the port to the state-controlled China Merchants Port Holdings. But that agreement sparked protests from unions and opposition groups, forcing the government to renegotiate it. Under the new plan, signed in July, the Chinese company will hold a 70 per cent stake in a joint venture with the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s prime minister, welcomed the deal during the official handing over ceremony at the weekend. He said: “With this agreement we have started to pay back the loans. Hambantota will be converted to a major port in the Indian Ocean. “There will be an economic zone and industrialisation in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism.” Share this graphic But the renegotiated plan has failed to quell dissent within Sri Lanka. When it was first signed Namal Rajapaksa, Hambantota’s MP and son of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, tweeted: “Government is playing geopolitics with national assets? #stopsellingSL”. For Beijing, the Hambantota project is a linchpin of the “One Belt One Road” project, which aims to build a new Silk Road of trade routes between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. That project is underpinned by a network of harbours across the world that have put China in a position to challenge the US as the world’s most important maritime superpower. Other similar developments in the region include the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is the centrepiece of the $55bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. But some have accused Beijing of using projects such as this to increase its regional political power, noting the length of the lease agreed by Sri Lanka is the same as that which gave Britain control over Hong Kong in the 19th century. Constantino Xavier, a fellow at foreign policy think-tank Carnegie, said: “This is part of a larger modus operandi by China in the region. Hambantota port lying virtually empty last month © Simon Mundy “Beijing typically finds a local partner, makes that local partner accept investment plans that are detrimental to their country in the long term, and then uses the debts to either acquire the project altogether or to acquire political leverage in that country.” New Delhi has become so concerned about Beijing’s plans at Hambantota that it has entered talks with Sri Lanka to operate an airport nearby. In recent months, however, there have been signs that China’s partners are starting to become wary over the terms being dictated to build projects under the One Road banner. Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar have all recently cancelled or sidelined major hydroelectricity projects planned by Chinese companies. The projects would have been worth a total of $20bn.

Tags: ChinaOne BeltOne RoadSocialism With Chinese Characteristics
Categories: Labor News

NTSB blames captain, bad safety culture for loss of El Faro

Current News - Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:11

NTSB blames captain, bad safety culture for loss of El Faro
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ntsb-issue-probable-el-faros-sinking-...
By JASON DEAREN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dec 12, 2017, 6:08 PM ET

The Associated Press
WATCH Discovered Data Recorder May Shed Light On the Mystery of El Faro
A ship captain's unwillingness to listen to his crew's suggestions to change course from the path of a raging hurricane. A weak corporate safety culture that left crewmembers ill-prepared to deal with heavy weather. An old ship with outdated lifeboats, open to the elements.

All these factors contributed to the sinking of the El Faro in the fury of Hurricane Joaquin on Oct. 1, 2015, which killed all 33 people on board, the National Transportation Safety Board announced on Tuesday. The report concludes a 2-year investigation into the worst U.S. maritime disaster in modern history.

The NTSB issued 53 safety recommendations along with its findings, which investigators hope will be adopted by the industry, maritime safety inspectors and weather forecasters to make the seas safer for future generations.

"I hope that this tragedy at sea can serve as a lighthouse to guide the safety of marine transportation," said Robert Sumwalt, the board's chairman.

The El Faro, which means lighthouse in Spanish, sank between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico after losing engine power in the Category 3 storm. The NTSB retrieved the ship's voyage data recorder, or "black box," from the sea floor near the Bahamas, 15,000-feet (4,570 meters) under the surface. The device held 26 hours of data, including audio of conversations on the ship's bridge as the frantic crew struggled to save the ship and themselves.

While the board found no fault with El Faro Capt. Michael Davidson's decision to leave port in Jacksonville, they did blame his reliance on an emailed weather forecasting system that contained hours-old data, rather than online updates from the National Hurricane Center. Investigators believe, based on his decisions and recorded comments, that he wasn't aware of the delay in the data, and that instead of skirting the storm, he sent the El Faro on a collision course with the hurricane.

"Although up-to-date weather information was available on the ship, the El Faro captain did not use the most current weather information for decision-making," NTSB investigator Mike Kucharski said at the meeting, held in Washington, D.C. "The captain did not take sufficient action to avoid Hurricane Joaquin, thereby putting El Faro and its crew in peril."

The board also criticized the "weak safety culture" of ship owner TOTE Maritime, Inc., including the lack of employee training for dealing with heavy weather situations and flooding. A hatch had been left open, allowing water from the roiling sea to flood an interior hold; this led to the ship tilting, disrupting the flow of oil to the engines. Once the freighter lost engine power, it was at the mercy of battering swells.

Also, the ship's wind gauge, called an anemometer, was broken and the 40-year-old freighter's open-top lifeboats would not have protected the crew, even if they had been able to launch them. The El Faro was legally allowed to carry lifeboats that expose people to the elements — just like the lifeboats on the Titanic and the Lusitania — due to safety-rule exemptions for older ships.

Whether the crew could have survived Joaquin's punishing winds and high seas had the El Faro been equipped with the closed-top lifeboats used by newer ships is unknown, but NTSB safety investigator Jon Furukawa said it could have helped crewmembers fighting for their lives .

"We believe that would've been the best method of departing the vessel under these conditions. It is still challenging, and we don't know if they would've survived," Furukawa said. "But enclosed lifeboats are the current standard and the El Faro did not have the current standard."

The board is not only recommending closed-top boats for all merchant ships, but also that the entire industry require crewmembers to carry personal locator beacons to better locate them during marine emergencies.

The El Faro had an older emergency position-indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB, which did not transmit global position system coordinates, and that made locating the ship more difficult for search-and-rescue crews. Given the heavy weather, rescuers probably couldn't have reached the ship any sooner, but the board believes the new requirement would help in future sea accidents.

The NTSB's draft recommendations are not law, but are used to guide industry changes or updates to existing safety procedures overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard and so-called "classification societies" like the American Bureau of Shipping, which conducts a large percentage of marine inspections on the Guard's behalf. The recommendations also can be used by Congress to create new laws meant to improve safety.

Larry Brennan, a maritime law professor at Fordham Law School and retired U.S. Navy captain, said the NTSB's recommendations highlighted major safety problems in the entire industry, including the Coast Guard and classification societies that are in charge of inspecting vessels for safety.

"El Faro was a worn, aged ship which succumbed to heavy weather in large part because of multiple unseaworthy conditions, poor leadership and bad decisions by the captain, American Bureau of Shipping, the owners as well as inadequate surveys and inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard," Brennan said.

——

Follow Jason Dearen on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen

Tags: NTSBsafetyEl Faro deathsEl Faro sinking
Categories: Labor News

California judge rules COSCO-affiliated port truckers were misclassified

Current News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:14

California judge rules COSCO-affiliated port truckers were misclassified
https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/port-truck-driver-misclassification...
AUTHOR

Jennifer McKevitt
@mckvt
PUBLISHED

Dec. 6, 2017
Dive Brief:

In a driver misclassification case, Judge Dickie Montemayor ruled against Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT), stating the company violated federal law by engaging in unfair labor practices, including misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, Trucks.com reported.
IBT is a subsidiary of the Chinese-owned COSCO Group. In Montemayor's ruling, the company was also ordered to cease and desist from behavior that includes interrogating, threatening or coercing employees who support union membership at its Wilmington, Calif. terminal.
California truckers have filed more than 800 wage claims, alleging they have been misclassified as independent contractors since 2011, and have been awarded roughly $40 million in compensation across 300 cases as a result.
Story continues below

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Recognition and favorable litigation toward misclassified drivers is growing, with legal tolerance correspondingly shrinking. In Los Angeles, the port of L.A. is considering blocking access to companies relying on contract labor, while companies such as Celadon and Swift have moved to mitigate the risk by turning away from using owner operators in the case of Celadon, or are setting aside large cash reserves should a negative ruling occur in the case of Swift.

Differing legal views of the situation are common.

"By misclassifying the drivers, IBT is preventing the individuals taking concerted activity, and depriving them of rights that employees are entitled to under the National Labor Relations Act," Jordan Schwartz, Partner, Labor and Employment Practice at Conn Maciel Carey LLP told Supply Chain Dive.

In other words, by denying the drivers the right to talk about working conditions or form a union, protections they would otherwise be entitled to, were they not misclassified, have been infringed upon.

Other attorneys attribute at least some of the emerging precedents to location.

"California is all over this issue," David Ritter, Partner at Barnes and Thornburg, LLP told Supply Chain Dive. "They're digging in, because the state and federal government are not receiving their fair share of taxes."

Ritter further notes the specific conditions of the case.

"IBT had full control over the means and the manner of work performed by the drivers," he said. "They established the rules, and when those rules were broken, drivers were disciplined."

"In fact, IBT even tried to cover its tracks by changing some of the contract wording," he added, "which further implicated the company. This is a situation where the black letter of the law is applied: in other words, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are, it's a duck."

Tags: CoscoPort Truckers Misclassified
Categories: Labor News

USA: Working People Propel Doug Jones to Historic Alabama Senate Victory

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Why changes to labour laws are an assault on workers' rights

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Mail and Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Kazakhstan: Coal Miners' Strike Spreads In Kazakhstan As Workers Stay Underground

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: RFE/RL
Categories: Labor News

Another Worker Death Underscores ‘Atrocious Safety Record’ at Hutchison Terminal in Jakarta

Current News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 15:47

Another Worker Death Underscores ‘Atrocious Safety Record’ at Hutchison Terminal in Jakarta
http://gcaptain.com/itf-another-worker-death-underscores-atrocious-safet...

December 11, 2017 by gCaptain

container terminal
Photo: By tcly / Shutterstock
Another worker has died in an accident at the Hutchison terminal in Jakarta, marking the fourth fatality in just the past 15 months at the terminal, the International Transport Workers’ Federation has reported.

The incident is the latest to underscore the what the ITF described as an “atrocious” safety record at the Hutchison terminal.

“We are shocked and alarmed by the continuing carnage at the Hutchison’s terminal in Jakarta. Two workers have died within two months, and four within the past 15 months. This is an atrocious record that speaks for itself,” said Nova Hakim, chair of the Serikat Pekerja Jakarta International Container Terminal (SPJICT).

While details of the accident are unclear, the ITF said the worker died as the result of a fall.

The ITF and SPJICT are calling on the company to conduct an official inquiry into the death and the circumstance “surrounding how the worker fell overboard,” the ITF said in a statement.

“Hutchison needs to answer serious questions,” commented ITF president, Paddy Crumlin. “Was this man provided with adequate fall protection? Was the outboard fencing on this vessel complete and compliant with international and class standards?

“Falls from height – and falls overboard – are 100% preventable. On a modern vessel, there is no reason why a worker should die from a fall from height with proper inspections, proper management of the work environment, proper equipment and engineering controls.

“When a person falls overboard, management are often quick to blame the worker. We need to dig deeper to find the root causes of this horrible tragedy,” Crumlin said.

Tags: death in Jakartahealth and safetyHutchison Terminal Jakarta
Categories: Labor News

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike

Current News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:22

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike
http://www.twincities.com/2017/12/11/metro-transit-workers-rally-as-nego...
By RYAN FAIRCLOTH | rfaircloth@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
December 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Around 70 unionized transit workers assembled at a Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting in Minneapolis Monday to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute.

Job safety, arduous schedules and employee benefits were among many concerns raised by the Metro Transit workers. The demonstration coincided with a new round of contract negotiations in St. Paul between the Met Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 that extended into the early evening.

“We care about getting a decent and fair contract, and we’re willing to fight to have a fair contract. It just seems a shame that we are not treated like the backbone to this company,” said Metro Transit bus driver Theresa Collins, who attended the demonstration.

Unionized transit operators and support personnel rejected the Met Council’s contract offer in November, citing operator safety as a main concern. Assaults on Twin Cities bus and light-rail operators have grown more common over the past five years. In 2016, 162 assaults were reported among more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators.

Collins has driven Metro Transit buses for 29 years. She said she’s been assaulted, spat on and threatened during her career.

“Driver assault is really big on the forefront right now for all of us,” Collins said. “I personally think that every driver that’s going to retire from this company will have been assaulted at least one time in their career.”

Union workers have called for Metro Transit to retrofit buses with protective driver enclosures in response to assault concerns, and have threatened to strike during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl if their demands aren’t met. The transit agency announced Dec. 1 that protective shields would be installed in 20 buses in the coming weeks as part of a pilot test.

David Dittbenner, a Metro Transit mechanic who attended the demonstration, said workers deserve a contract that offers better wages, benefits and scheduling.

Despite working for Metro Transit for 16 years, he said he isn’t able to get full weekends off from work.“We’re here for a better contract than what they originally offered,” Dittbenner said.

Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said the two parties made progress in negotiations Monday.

“On some things we’ve come closer to each other, and there’s a few key points where we’re not there yet as far as coming to an agreement,” he said.

Transit workers presented the Met Council with an updated proposal Monday evening, Lawson said, adding that a mediator will return with a response from Metro Transit by the end of the week.

He said he’s hopeful an agreement will be reached before a potential Super Bowl strike.

Tags: ATU 1005health and safetycontract rights
Categories: Labor News

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike

Current News - Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:22

MN ATU 1005 Metro Transit workers rally in Minneapolis as negotiations continue to avert Super Bowl strike
http://www.twincities.com/2017/12/11/metro-transit-workers-rally-as-nego...
By RYAN FAIRCLOTH | rfaircloth@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
December 11, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Around 70 unionized transit workers assembled at a Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting in Minneapolis Monday to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute.

Job safety, arduous schedules and employee benefits were among many concerns raised by the Metro Transit workers. The demonstration coincided with a new round of contract negotiations in St. Paul between the Met Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 that extended into the early evening.

“We care about getting a decent and fair contract, and we’re willing to fight to have a fair contract. It just seems a shame that we are not treated like the backbone to this company,” said Metro Transit bus driver Theresa Collins, who attended the demonstration.

Unionized transit operators and support personnel rejected the Met Council’s contract offer in November, citing operator safety as a main concern. Assaults on Twin Cities bus and light-rail operators have grown more common over the past five years. In 2016, 162 assaults were reported among more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators.

Collins has driven Metro Transit buses for 29 years. She said she’s been assaulted, spat on and threatened during her career.

“Driver assault is really big on the forefront right now for all of us,” Collins said. “I personally think that every driver that’s going to retire from this company will have been assaulted at least one time in their career.”

Union workers have called for Metro Transit to retrofit buses with protective driver enclosures in response to assault concerns, and have threatened to strike during the Feb. 4 Super Bowl if their demands aren’t met. The transit agency announced Dec. 1 that protective shields would be installed in 20 buses in the coming weeks as part of a pilot test.

David Dittbenner, a Metro Transit mechanic who attended the demonstration, said workers deserve a contract that offers better wages, benefits and scheduling.

Despite working for Metro Transit for 16 years, he said he isn’t able to get full weekends off from work.“We’re here for a better contract than what they originally offered,” Dittbenner said.

Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, said the two parties made progress in negotiations Monday.

“On some things we’ve come closer to each other, and there’s a few key points where we’re not there yet as far as coming to an agreement,” he said.

Transit workers presented the Met Council with an updated proposal Monday evening, Lawson said, adding that a mediator will return with a response from Metro Transit by the end of the week.

He said he’s hopeful an agreement will be reached before a potential Super Bowl strike.

Tags: ATU 1005health and safetycontract rights
Categories: Labor News

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move

Current News - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 23:23

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/12/10/Tunisians-declare-boycott-of...

Short url
TUNIS, (PIC) +-
A Tunisian labor union on Sunday evening announced its decision to boycott U.S. ships docking at a seaport in the country’s southern region of Sfax following Trump’s recognition, on Wednesday, of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Spokesman of the Popular Conference for the Palestinians Abroad, Ziad al-Aloul, said on Facebook that the regional executive office of Tunisia’s Trade Unions decided to boycott all American ships docking at Sfax commercial harbor.

As part of the boycott move, workers at the seaport will not empty the shipments onboard boats tied up at Sfax seaport after they had set sail from the U.S.

Prior to the boycott, mass rallies had swept Tunisia with thousands of protesters holding up Palestinian flags and banners. Protesters also burned the U.S. flag and others stepped on images of Israeli flags.

Tags: labor boycott of USPalestiniansTunisian unions
Categories: Labor News

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move

Current News - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 23:23

Tunisians maritime unions declare boycott of U.S. ships after Trump’s Jerusalem move
https://english.palinfo.com/news/2017/12/10/Tunisians-declare-boycott-of...

Short url
TUNIS, (PIC) +-
A Tunisian labor union on Sunday evening announced its decision to boycott U.S. ships docking at a seaport in the country’s southern region of Sfax following Trump’s recognition, on Wednesday, of Occupied Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Spokesman of the Popular Conference for the Palestinians Abroad, Ziad al-Aloul, said on Facebook that the regional executive office of Tunisia’s Trade Unions decided to boycott all American ships docking at Sfax commercial harbor.

As part of the boycott move, workers at the seaport will not empty the shipments onboard boats tied up at Sfax seaport after they had set sail from the U.S.

Prior to the boycott, mass rallies had swept Tunisia with thousands of protesters holding up Palestinian flags and banners. Protesters also burned the U.S. flag and others stepped on images of Israeli flags.

Tags: labor boycott of USPalestiniansTunisian unions
Categories: Labor News

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Current News - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 18:01

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/237439/melbournes-vict-grinds-to-...

Over 1,000 containers are kept motionless at Port of Melbourne’s container terminal at Web Dock after members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) walked off the job amid an industrial dispute.

Workers have been picketing at the Webb Dock for two weeks due to an ongoing dispute involving a casual worker who was denied a security clearance because of a criminal record.

Anders Dommestrup, Chief Executive of Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), said the union officials organising the picket at Webb Dock were demanding that VICT offer work to an MUA member with a criminal record that “makes it illegal for him to work in the secure areas at Webb Dock under Federal law.”

According to Dommestrup, the individual in question started working as a casual employee in November 2016 and applied for a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) in February this year.

“He was notified in March that he had failed to gain an MSIC and informed VICT of this in November, after which VICT informed him he would no longer be offered shifts due to these circumstances,” he added.

Dommestrup stressed that the picket is having a huge impact on many small and medium-sized businesses, putting perishable goods at risk, damaging Victoria’s reputation and giving Sydney’s Port Botany a competitive leg-up.

“It’s time the officials abandon the picket, allow VICT staff back on site, stop preventing trucks entering and leaving the site and permit Victoria’s importers and exporters to start doing business again.

“The MUA is party to VICT’s enterprise agreement and this means that they approved it,” he continued.

The protest has resulted in ships being diverted to Adelaide and other Victorian ports, endangering over AUSD 100 million worth of business, local media reported.

The Port of Melbourne risks becoming an international laughing stock if industrial action that has shut
down VICT for the past 10 days is permitted to continue, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) warned.

“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA over what we now understand is a legal reason for this individual being ineligible for employment at the docks,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.

“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states, at a massive cost to our economy,” Anderson said.

Anderson called on all stakeholders involved in the action to “put the interests of the Victorian economy first and work constructively to bring an end to industrial action.”

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Separately, MUA has announced industrial action of its members working on pilot cutters operated by the Port Authority from Port Jackson and Port Botany on December 13.

The industrial action is being pursued as the Port Authority of New South Wales and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and MUA failed to reach a deal on a replacement Enterprise Agreement for its Sydney workforce. Talks on the new deal are ongoing since February 2017.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: MUAMelbourne VICT Strike
Categories: Labor News

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Current News - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 18:01

Australia Melbourne’s VICT Grinds to a Halt amid MUA Industrial Action

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/237439/melbournes-vict-grinds-to-...

Over 1,000 containers are kept motionless at Port of Melbourne’s container terminal at Web Dock after members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) walked off the job amid an industrial dispute.

Workers have been picketing at the Webb Dock for two weeks due to an ongoing dispute involving a casual worker who was denied a security clearance because of a criminal record.

Anders Dommestrup, Chief Executive of Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT), said the union officials organising the picket at Webb Dock were demanding that VICT offer work to an MUA member with a criminal record that “makes it illegal for him to work in the secure areas at Webb Dock under Federal law.”

According to Dommestrup, the individual in question started working as a casual employee in November 2016 and applied for a Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) in February this year.

“He was notified in March that he had failed to gain an MSIC and informed VICT of this in November, after which VICT informed him he would no longer be offered shifts due to these circumstances,” he added.

Dommestrup stressed that the picket is having a huge impact on many small and medium-sized businesses, putting perishable goods at risk, damaging Victoria’s reputation and giving Sydney’s Port Botany a competitive leg-up.

“It’s time the officials abandon the picket, allow VICT staff back on site, stop preventing trucks entering and leaving the site and permit Victoria’s importers and exporters to start doing business again.

“The MUA is party to VICT’s enterprise agreement and this means that they approved it,” he continued.

The protest has resulted in ships being diverted to Adelaide and other Victorian ports, endangering over AUSD 100 million worth of business, local media reported.

The Port of Melbourne risks becoming an international laughing stock if industrial action that has shut
down VICT for the past 10 days is permitted to continue, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) warned.

“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA over what we now understand is a legal reason for this individual being ineligible for employment at the docks,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.

“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states, at a massive cost to our economy,” Anderson said.

Anderson called on all stakeholders involved in the action to “put the interests of the Victorian economy first and work constructively to bring an end to industrial action.”

The Supreme Court has ordered the Maritime Union of Australia to stop the picket.

Separately, MUA has announced industrial action of its members working on pilot cutters operated by the Port Authority from Port Jackson and Port Botany on December 13.

The industrial action is being pursued as the Port Authority of New South Wales and the Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) and MUA failed to reach a deal on a replacement Enterprise Agreement for its Sydney workforce. Talks on the new deal are ongoing since February 2017.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: MUAMelbourne VICT Strike
Categories: Labor News

Global: Migrant workers expose recruitment practices

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 12/10/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Global Cause
Categories: Labor News

Global: Ending modern slavery and child labour: a global challenge

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 12/09/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Global Cause
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 Jackie Jeter is still Metro union president

Current News - Fri, 12/08/2017 - 22:00

ATU 689 Jackie Jeter is still Metro union president
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2017/12/07/jackie-jet...
by Martine Powers December 7
Jackie L. Jeter, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, was reelected to complete her fourth three-year term as head of the union. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
Members of Metro’s largest union voted Wednesday to reelect Jackie L. Jeter president, in a special election that was monitored by the Department of Labor after accusations of election fraud.

In a statement Thursday, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 said Jeter garnered 68 percent of the vote from members who participated — “a wider margin than the first election in December of 2015,” the union noted in its news release.

The other four major leaders of the union were also reelected.

The special election was mandated earlier this year, after a federal judge voided the December 2015 election results, saying union representatives had failed to address allegations that they had flouted rules for election eligibility. A lawsuit filed against the union by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez alleged that Jeter and others allowed a select list of members to pay their membership dues late and re-gain their eligibility to run for office.

The lawsuit also alleged that the union violated federal regulations, and its own bylaws, by sending election notices to members in the mail one day later than the 15-day advance-notice deadline.Jeter and others denied those accusations. But the Department of Labor motioned for new elections, and U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel granted the request.

According to the unofficial tally, Jeter received 2,886 votes in Wednesday’s election, over 2,000 votes more than either of her two opponents.

“One thing that everyone at Local 689, and throughout this region, can agree on is that Metro is at a breaking point,” Jeter said. “I am thankful to the membership for reelecting me and allowing me to continue my service to our members as we stand together to make Local 689 a more perfect union and Metro a better system.”

Normal terms for union leadership are three years long, and the next regularly-scheduled election will take place in December 2018.

Tags: ATU 698election
Categories: Labor News

East Coast ILA Dockworkers Walk Out of Labor Talks over automation issues

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 20:33

East Coast ILA Dockworkers Walk Out of Labor Talks over automation issues
Union members rankled by discussion of automation; ‘I was absolutely shocked’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/dockworkers-walk-out-of-labor-talks-1512687779

The Port of Savannah PHOTO: STEPHEN B. MORTON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Jennifer Smith
Dec. 7, 2017 6:02 p.m. ET
4 COMMENTS
Labor negotiations between employers and unionized dockworkers at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports got off to a rocky start this week after union leaders walked out of contract-extension talks.

The main point of disagreement was about how ports define automation, according to the International Longshoremen’s Association. Earlier this year the union’s president, Harold Daggett, said the issue of job losses due to technology would be central during negotiations to extend the current contract, which expires in September 2018. He has pledged to prevent container terminals from automating to the same degree as many European ports.

The ILA and the United States Maritime Alliance Ltd., or USMX, which represents terminal operators and container shipping lines at ports from Maine to Texas, had agreed to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Hollywood, Fla., but ended talks early on the second day.

“They got upset about some discussions we were having around automation and then they left,” said David Adam, USMX’s chief executive. “I was absolutely shocked.”

This week’s meeting was meant to pave the way for an extension. A deal would put East Coast ports on a more even footing with ports on the West Coast, which compete for some of the same freight. West Coast employers and dockworkers in August agreed to extend a separate labor contract through 2022, giving retailers and manufacturers more certainty that cargo shipped there won’t get delayed by walkouts or slowdowns, which have dogged past negotiations.

A union spokesman said the dockworkers’ representatives disagreed with how USMX wanted to define what constitutes a fully automated terminal.

“ILA suggested language that any unmanned equipment would be considered automated,” spokesman James McNamara said. The union was “definitely frustrated and not happy,” he said. “We weren’t able to get the assurances and the language we felt comfortable with to move forward,” so Mr. Daggett instructed the delegates to go back to their ports and resume local bargaining.

The breakdown follows tensions earlier this year at East Coast gateways like South Carolina’s Port of Charleston, where a labor slowdown jammed truck traffic at one terminal. The head of the local union there also called for a one-day shutdown of ports from Maine to Texas so members could rally in Washington, D.C., over jobs lost to automation and the use of nonunion labor, though Mr. Daggett asked members to hold off on the proposed walkout.

The early end to the meeting was reported earlier by the Journal of Commerce.

USMX has issued a statement saying it expects the talks to continue “at some point in the future.”

It isn’t clear when the next formal meeting will take place. There are about 10 months left on the contract, which provides for some wiggle room.

“Typically the East Coast [union] is not as bad as the West Coast,” said Frank Guenzerodt, chief executive of Dachser USA Air & Sea Logistics Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of German logistics firm Dachser SE. “I kind of trust in them to actually reach an agreement and not run into a strike.” ​

Still, the breakdown of talks increases pressure on East Coast port associations and terminal operators that saw more cargo flow their way during the earlier West Coast labor battle.

“We strongly urge both sides to return to the bargaining table and reach an equitable agreement,” a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in an email.

Tags: ILAcontract fightAutomationContract
Categories: Labor News

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:45

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

The decision not to carry a passenger was made on a 'case-by-case decision', says Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/german-pilots-refuse-depo...

Jon Sharman Thursday 7 December 2017 07:01 GMT

Pilots have stopped 222 deportations of asylum seekers from Germany by refusing to take off with them on board.

Many of the pilots refused to take control of flights taking people back to Afghanistan, where violence is still rife following years of war and occupation by Western forces.

One of the airlines involved said pilots made the decisions on a "case-by-case" basis if they believed "flight safety could be affected".

Between January and September, a total of 222 planned deportations were classified to have "failed" due to pilot refusal, according to German government figures. Most – 140 – occurred at Frankfurt airport. Others refused to fly from Cologne-Bonn airport. Germany has deemed Afghanistan a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

The figures were obtained by the Die Linke political party, which is commonly referred to as the Left Party.

Some of the flights belonged to Lufthansa and its subsidiary, Eurowings.

The decision not to carry a passenger, was ultimately down to the pilot on a "case-by-case decision", Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty told the Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung newspaper which originally reported the story.

He added: "If he has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger.

"Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board."

German publication RBB24 quoted a Lufthansa pilot who did not want to be identified as saying pilots would normally refuse to take off if a potential deportee answers "no" when asked if they want to take the flight.

"We have to prevent anyone from being freaked out during the flight, and we have to protect the other passengers as well," the pilot reportedly said.

Pilots can face disciplinary measures if they refuse to fly on moral grounds.

Lufthansa Group spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf told RBB24 that he was not aware of "any case where one of our pilots has refused to take them for reasons of conscience".

Germany processed more asylum applications than all 27 other EU countries combined. European statistics agency Eurostat, said the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) decided 388,201 asylum cases in the first six months of 2017.

Tags: pilotsimmigrationasylumlufthansaimmigration rights
Categories: Labor News

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 19:45

Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly

The decision not to carry a passenger was made on a 'case-by-case decision', says Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/german-pilots-refuse-depo...

Jon Sharman Thursday 7 December 2017 07:01 GMT

Pilots have stopped 222 deportations of asylum seekers from Germany by refusing to take off with them on board.

Many of the pilots refused to take control of flights taking people back to Afghanistan, where violence is still rife following years of war and occupation by Western forces.

One of the airlines involved said pilots made the decisions on a "case-by-case" basis if they believed "flight safety could be affected".

Between January and September, a total of 222 planned deportations were classified to have "failed" due to pilot refusal, according to German government figures. Most – 140 – occurred at Frankfurt airport. Others refused to fly from Cologne-Bonn airport. Germany has deemed Afghanistan a "safe country of origin" in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.

The figures were obtained by the Die Linke political party, which is commonly referred to as the Left Party.

Some of the flights belonged to Lufthansa and its subsidiary, Eurowings.

The decision not to carry a passenger, was ultimately down to the pilot on a "case-by-case decision", Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty told the Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung newspaper which originally reported the story.

He added: "If he has the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse the transport of a passenger.

"Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board."

German publication RBB24 quoted a Lufthansa pilot who did not want to be identified as saying pilots would normally refuse to take off if a potential deportee answers "no" when asked if they want to take the flight.

"We have to prevent anyone from being freaked out during the flight, and we have to protect the other passengers as well," the pilot reportedly said.

Pilots can face disciplinary measures if they refuse to fly on moral grounds.

Lufthansa Group spokesman Helmut Tolksdorf told RBB24 that he was not aware of "any case where one of our pilots has refused to take them for reasons of conscience".

Germany processed more asylum applications than all 27 other EU countries combined. European statistics agency Eurostat, said the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) decided 388,201 asylum cases in the first six months of 2017.

Tags: pilotsimmigrationasylumlufthansaimmigration rights
Categories: Labor News

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