Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Callous Murder as Container and Cargo Terminal Stevedore Row Continues

Father of Union Boss Killed in Vicious Attack
Shipping News Feature

HONDURAS – Last September we described in detail how a gang of men tried to break into the home of trade union leader Victor Crespo in a concerted attempt to kill him. Mr Crespo was threatened with death after holding discussions with stevedores as part of his duties as General Secretary of the Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) to try and reach a collective bargaining agreement for work at the ICTSI managed Puerto Cortes container and cargo terminal. Yesterday Mr Crespo’s father died after he and other family members were attacked by an armed assailant who ran them down in a stolen car.

This horrendous incident is the last and latest in a catalogue of crimes on the personnel and families of the International Transport Workers Union (ITF) affiliated SGTM including multiple death threats against Mr Crespo’s colleagues. The ITF and SGTM believe these are connected to the union’s lawful request for a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) at the port and the recognition that benefits have not been paid, despite the law requiring them. The port operating concession was taken over by ICTSI in February 2013 and which appointed a single stevedoring company to work at the port. When the SGTM presented legal cases to press for its members’ rights the death threats apparently immediately resumed.

Following the murder attempt in September 2013 Victor Crespo was evacuated to a third country to allow him to continue his work as President of the Union. Mr Crespo senior was hospitalised after the attack but was declared brain dead and his life support machine was switched off yesterday afternoon (January 28).

ICTSI runs a vast network of global container terminals and is run by Filipino billionaire Enrique Razon. The company prides itself on 'having the experience in handling the intricacies of port labour management throughout the world, and in growing our workforce into active contributors to the company's growth'.

Photo: Initially established as La Natividad by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conquistador, Puerto Cortes now claims to be the most important port in Central America.