Striking Workers Threaten Violence At Port of Santos

Wednesday, April 04, 2001
A threat of further violence from striking workers at Santos, Latin America's biggest port, kept police on alert and hampered movements of goods on Wednesday, the port authority said.

Twelve ships were docked at the port, as 250 police maintained a protective barrier to repel any more attempts by the protesting dockworkers to disrupt loading and unloading.

Hundreds of defiant dockworkers gathered around a city square hoping their president would return to announce a government settlement to end the nine-day strike in protest of a law, which reduces union sway in work practices.

The dockworkers plan to vote on any government offer to resolve the strike that has crippled the port during a peak soybean export period later. Union leaders and government officials were still discussing a deal by mid-afternoon.

Thousands of workers who load and unload ships stopped work on March 27 to protest implementation of a 1993 port modernization law, which aimed to break the union's grip on the port's hiring and work assignment policies.

Most terminals were not docking ships for fear of further violence from dockworkers.

"Companies have been reluctant to dock ships, especially since acts of sabotage and violence have grown since Sunday," a logistics director at a large Santos shipping agent said. "Ship movement through the port is incredibly slow."

The demonstrations turned violent on Monday when Dockworkers took to the streets throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks on riot police.

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