Strike shuts down 36 Brazilian ports

Rio de Janeiro, Feb 23 (IANS/EFE) A strike to protest the Brazilian government’s plan to privatize several ports shut down at least 36 terminals for six hours Friday, union spokespersons said.

Stevedores did not show up for work Friday’s first shift as part of a bid to pressure the government to modify the port-overhaul plan.

The strike affected several of the country’s main ports – including Santos, Latin America’s largest – Paulo Pereira da Silva, a lawmaker and president of the Forca Sindical trade union, said.

The dockworkers had planned to hold other demonstrations, including a second work stoppage Tuesday afternoon, but those planned job actions have been put on hold following an agreement with the government.

The unionists have pledged not to stage any strikes until March 15 and in the meantime will seek to negotiate changes to Executive Decree 595, which establishes a new regulatory framework for the port sector.

As part of the overhaul, some of the country’s 158 ports are to be awarded in concession to private companies.

“The strike was a success. Our difficulty was in having talks with the government to express our positions with respect to the reform and today we opened a channel,” Pereira da Silva told reporters at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia.

The government, represented in the talks by the head of the Special Secretariat for Ports, Leonidas Cristino, pledged not to make any announcements concerning bidding processes for concession contracts until at least March 15.

“We have no intention of changing the essence of the reform, but we’re open to negotiations,” Cristino told reporters.

–IANS/EFE

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