Limassol port stevedores postponed on Monday night for two days the strike they announced earlier in the day over who was responsible for the onshore parts of the loading operations.
Union rep, SEK’s Titos Timotheou said that following a general assembly, the stevedores agreed to postpone the strike for two days, ahead of Tuesday’s meeting at the transport ministry where the issue will be discussed. They are to decide on Wednesday how to proceed depending on the meeting’s outcome, he said.
The strike affected port operations.
“A vessel docked at the Limassol port which was scheduled to be serviced this morning has not received any service yet,” said a spokesperson of the Limassol port general cargo operator Dubai Ports, one of the winners in the competition for the commercialisation of the Limassol port.
The dispute relates to loading and unloading services provided to docked ships, the Dubai Ports spokesperson said.
The general assemblies of the port “stackers” who load and unload cargo on docked vessels, had earlier rejected a proposal providing for a “50-50 basis” sharing of the responsibility for the onshore part of the loading operation, the Dubai Ports spokesperson added.
The onshore activity was previously carried out by another category of port workers which the government compensated before absorbing their operations.
Dubai Ports already received an opinion from its legal adviser that the onshore activities can be carried out by the company, the Dubai Ports spokesman said.
This position apparently conflicts with that of the unions which argue that only the 110 registered stackers are eligible according to the provisions of the law to carry out the onshore activity.
Already, one vessel that was scheduled to pick up pipes for the development of Egypt’s Zohr gas field, had to be diverted to Larnaca port and load them from there, the Dubai Ports spokesperson said.
The dispute with Dubai Ports, as to who can work on the loading and unloading of docked vessels onshore, emerged early February and prompted the intervention of the transport ministry, which led into a truce that expired on March 31.
Earlier, Yiannis Tsouris, an official at SEK, one of Cyprus’s major trade unions, contradicted the Dubai Ports version about the allegedly negotiated compromise, adding that the workers’ general assemblies on Friday, “rejected a three-month extension” of the strike moratorium.
Tsouris said that Monday’s labour action at the port was not equivalent to a strike. “There is no strike at the port,” he said adding that the describing the measures as “mobilisation” is more suitable.
“If there was a strike, the port would be closed and no ship would be serviced, no matter what it carried, general cargo or containers,” he said. “Port workers simply stopped servicing ships to which the operating company sends its own workers to work”.
The 110 registered stevedores, he continued, are hired by shipping agents. Their profession remains closed after 2008, and they are the only ones “according to the law” who are eligible to load or unload cargo from ships.