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Peru dockers win historic agreement

In this video, Peruvian dockworker union secretary-treasurer Wilmer Esteves Morales tells ITF delegates of the struggles his fellow dockworkers went through to regain their collective bargaining rights: strikes lasting more than 20 days, police repression, militarization of the docks in Callao, and more.

Dockers in Peru have won a ground-breaking settlement bringing to an end a three-year legal battle for a collective agreement.

The new agreement, which has been endorsed by Peru’s national parliament, was signed on 9 June after a 12-hour assembly of the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores Marítimos y Portuarios of Callao (SUTRAMPORPC). The deal provides workers in the port of Callao with gains, such as the weekly payment of wages and social benefits. The companies must also take a number of steps, including complying with security and health and safety standards.

Last November, the supreme court of justice confirmed the union members’ right to be covered by a collective agreement. However, several companies failed to honour the court’s verdict and reportedly continued with their anti-union policies.

In response, the union began a courageous fightback. Strike action in January led to the beginning of negotiations. It was during this period that SUTRAMPORPC general secretary Wilmer Morales Esteves was attacked by unknown assailants.

The workers’ victory – secured with the support of the ITF regional office, the ITF dockers’ section and the US-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union – has been reinforced by important political changes in Peru. Earlier this month Peruvians elected President Ollanta Humala, who has expressed a commitment to workers. Humala defeated the daughter of ex-president Alberto Fujimori who is now serving a prison sentence for corruption and human rights violations.

Wilmer Esteves declared:

This historic agreement recognises all the workers who died or disappeared during the tireless struggle of police reprisals, union persecutions and all sorts of threats. We twice defeated authoritarianism through this agreement, via its approval by the congress of the republic and in the elections. I deeply thank the ITF and its affiliates for their support and solidarity; they gave us the strength not to surrender.

ITF Americas regional secretary Antonio Fritz commented:

This is good news – but the fight is not over. The ITF’s regional office will build on this important success to strengthen port unions both in Peru and throughout the region, and will work with Latin American affiliates to develop a strategy and commit resources for an action plan.

From ITF Global

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