The International Transport Workers’ Federation said Monday that privatization plans have been temporarily put on hold at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala’s largest Pacific port.
ITF, which is an international federation of transportation unions, said the Guatemala military withdrew from the port as a result of an agreement between the government and the port workers’ union Sindicato de Trabajadores de Empresa Portuaria Quetzal (STEPQ).
ITF said when workers found out earlier this month about talks between the government and Barcelona Container Terminal to privatize Puerto Quetzal, the union reacted angrily and stopped port operations.
“The union had only just agreed a contract with the port on 11 July, without any knowledge of the privatization talks,” ITF said. “Senior STEPQ representatives met Guatemalan President, Gen. Otto Perez Molina, and were told that they had 10 days in which to consider the deal. Yet within 72 hours, on 8 August, some 500 soldiers were sent in and took control of the port.”
Under the agreement announced today, ITF said a 30-day period will allow government-mediated talks to take place between the Port of Quetzal and STEPQ. During that time, the port must suspend all actions against the union and the port operators will return to work.
ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said: “We welcome this breathing space for constructive talks to take place with STEPQ and hope all sides honor it. We are pleased to see workers being able to get back to work after the alarm over last week’s developments.” - Chris Dupin