(en) Santos port strike reports (pt)

Andrew Flood (ANFLOOD@macollamh.ucd.ie)
Mon, 28 Apr 1997 12:36:38 +0100 (BST)

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[Background: a seris of reports from the Port of Santos, Brazil which was shut down by a general strike after police stormed two ships workers were occupying]


Subject: Santos port remains halted Originator: union-d@wolfnet.com


Ships waiting to dock

Already a full fifteen ships at the harbour entrance are waiting to dock, due to the protest strike which has paralysed the Port of Santos since the morning of 15 April.

A new round of negotiations between the workers and Cosipa is taking place today, 17 April. A mass meeting of workers announced approval of the major part of the proposal presented by the company. They accept discussing the size of the teams, methods of payment and other items. The only impediment, according to the leaders, is acceptance that the work on board the ships could be done by workers not requisitioned via the organ for management of manual labour. This point was opposed, categorically, by the assembly of the ranks.

While this is so, the strike continues to totally paralyse the Port of Santos, ever since it began on 15 April in protest against the invasion by the Federal Police of the ships "Marcos Dias" and "Vancouver", at the Cosipa terminal. The workers on board were arrested, interrogated and later freed. There was no violence. The crisis generated by the invasion, however, continues to maintain high tension at the Cosipa entrance, principally due to the presence of elite marksmen of the Military Police, posted on the roof and on railway wagons, carrying long range automatic weapons equipped with telescopic sights.


Messages from the whole world are falling on the computer of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, through the international network of support via the Internet, asking for serious negotiations, a transformation of the ports without social crisis and by the maintenance of unionised work in the maritime terminals, in accordance with the Law of the Ports. Tell him, respectfully, by e-mail pr@planalto.gov.br

Translated by LabourNet http://www.labournet.org.uk

------- Originator: union-d@wolfnet.com X-Comment: UNION-D E-Mail List X-Listprocessor-version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas

Translated from Portuguese by LabourNet




The workers at the Santos Port (Brazil) have just gone back to their jobs at Cosipa's berth. A temporary agreement was reached with the company in order to discuss the working conditions as a whole. There will be a truce until April 30 in order to allow the discussion of a collective agreement. In this period the ships handled at Cosipa's private berth will be handled both by the dockers and the workers hired by the company. The first meeting for the discussion of this collective agreement will take place on Tuesday, April 22.

The national strike declared this morning, April 18, has been suspended, including at the Santos Port, which had been paralysed since April 15, as a reaction to the assault to the two ships, "Vancouver" and "Marcos Dias", which had been occupied by the workers since April 2. The work in all ports will be resumed from today (April 19) at 7 am.

According to the co-ordinator of the Santos Port Interunion organisation, Joaquim da Silve (Quincas) president of the Dockers Union, "the most important thing about this truce is the reopening of the negotiations, to a table, from where they should never have left".

For him, to force Cosipa back to the negotiations was a partial victory, important in order to put the debate about the ports back to where it belongs. "This difficult phase of the workers movement we are going through here, also shows the importance of combining effective actions with and effort of international communications and support in order to spread the word about the worker's struggle" he said.

Jose Tarcisco Florentino da Silva, president of the Sindicatop dos Conferentes and vice president of the Federacao dos Trabalhadores Avulsos (Fenccovib) also stressed the importance of world-wide solidarity: "We know this is not just a Brazilian struggle or a struggle of the Santos port. The same kind of problems apply in different countries. Disputes like the one in Liverpool, in Seoul, in Amsterdam and now in Rotterdam are the result of a deliberate project of casualisation of labour relations and cuts in wages. The workers need to organise a global response to this project".




More than 300 thousand tonnes of cargo have not been handled in Santos because of the protest strike, which today, April 18 has reached its fourth day. 38 ships are paralysed in the berths and 21 others outside the port. Today, there have been solidarity strikes in the most important Brazilian ports.

66,000 Brazilian port workers struck today, April 18, o organised solidarity demonstrations against the exclusion of unionised labour from the work at Cosipa. The national movement wants to put pressure in favour of a way out from the impasse according to the National Dockers Federation.

Apart from Santos, the largest Latin-American port, the ports of Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande, Porto Alegre, Imbituba and Sao Francisco are also paralysed. The port of Vitoria organised slow downs today and will strike tomorrow , April 19. The port of Itajai has struck for two hours in each of the six shifts. The port of Paranagua organised public demonstrations in solidarity with the movement in Santos.

The negotiations, interrupted on the night of the 17, were resumed yesterday. The main obstacle is still Cosipa's intention of handling the ships in its own berth with its own labour. The unions didn't even accepted a division of labour, because they say this would create a precedent which would be latter adopted in other ports in the country. This system would only be a temporary one before reaching a definitive agreement. Cosipa maintain its position of not wanting to negotiate the handling of its ships with its own workers.



Reliable sources obtained by the Intersindical Portuaria de Santos (INTERPORTUS) reveal that the officials of the "Vancouver" have been subjected to pressures because of the interview they gave to the National Confederation of Sea, Air and River Transport (CONTTMAF), denouncing the risk conditions in the operations handled by Cosipa with its own workers.

The Fertimport Maritime Agency, which represents the owner of the ship, denied to the journalists the veracity of this information. According to internal sources this attitude would be the result of pressure made by Cosipa, which would also be pressurising the officials not to give any more statements to the journalists, although the officials have not retreated from their previous statements yet.

The original interview was made in a bar, at Santos city centre, with dozens of witnesses. Amongst them the president of the Federacao Nacional dos Avulsos (Fenccovib), Mario Teixeira, the president of the Sindicato dos Conferentes de Carga e Descarga, Jose Tarciso Florentino da Silva; the president of the Sindicato dos Vigias Porturarios and general secretart of Conttmaf, Carlos Henrique Matos (Caio) and the directos of the Santos Dockers Union, Orlando Santana.


E-mail president Cardoso of Brazil to emphasize world-wide support for the Santos workers. You can e-mail president Cardoso at this address:

e-mail: pr@planalto.gov.br

Send a copy to the Santos portworkers union:


You can also fax president Cardoso at: Fax: (55 61) 226 7566

More info in English at LabourNet:


and in Portuguese at the Santos Unions Web site:



Originator: union-d@wolfnet.com

Translated from Portugese by LabourNet http://www.labournet.org.uk




The opening of the negotiations today, April 22, in the afternoon, was little more than an exchange of technical and concrete proposals. Tomorrow there will be a new meeting which is expected to be more fruitful from the dialogue point of view. The representatives of the workers will meet with the president of the steel company, Marcus Tambasco.

Jose Florentino da Silva, president of the Sindicato dos Conferentes and member of the negotiating commission hopes that this meeting could lay the basis to put the debate on the modernisation of the ports back to where it should have never left: the negotiating table, around serious proposals.

The Port of Santos has been running again now for three days, since the end of the strike, on April 19 in the morning. The total normalisation of operations is expected shortly. Today, April 22, there are still 14 ships waiting to enter the Port and be handled.


To maintain the mobilisation and the national understanding of the need for a national solidarity network is now the main aim of the unions. The worker must also be regularly informed about the situation of the negotiations.

The negotiations which started today, April 22, will be difficult. The whole of the country must be on alert, in front of the intransigent position shown by Cosipa since the middle of March when it announced its intention of handled ships with their own non unionised workforce.

The information in most of the media has been biased and openly back the aims of Cosipa, blanking out all press releases from InterPortuS (the port unions). Some, as the Revista Veja, by Editora Abril, went so far as to announce "the end of stevedoring" in its reports. They take the side of Cosipa openly, as if this was just a big football match.


Trade union leaders of dockworkers from all over the country will be in Brasilia from today, April 22, in order to meet MPs and leaders of the political parties represented in the Congress. The aim is to get support for an urgent vote for a Bill which would include all the areas segregated from Brazilian ports back into the organised port areas.

The Bill, by Vicente Cascione MP (Brazilian Labour Party, PTB - Sao Paulo) was accepted by the speaker Telma de Souza MP (Workers Party, PT - Sao Paulo) and now its urgency should be accepted so that it can be voted on by Parliament. This is one of the ways adopted to put an end to the privileges and appearance of private berths outside the organised ports, which has been used by the companies which want to operate ships without registered dockworkers.

In the case of Santos, the division was made by the Transport Ministry through the Portaria 94/95, which was in breach of the Ports Law, the 1886/96 Decree and the 137 ILO Convention.

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