Globalization Run Amok

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1 A. P. Møller-Mærsk, Their Subsidiaries and Subcontractors in Central America The Investigative Report of an International Trade Union Delegation to Central America March 17-21, 2005 International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) United Federation of Danish Workers (3F) American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO) Text and Photographs by David Bacon Hovedpunkter, Konklusion og Anbefalinger Oversat til Dansk

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3 Photo by Ron Carver Ateen age driver hauls Mærsk containers on the docks of Puerto Cortez, Honduras. Is this the face that AP Møller chooses to represent Mærsk, the largest, wealthiest, most profitable ocean carrier on the seven seas? Management s response to this investigative report will reveal their commitment to corporate social responsibility. En mindreårig chauffør transportere Mærsk containere i havnene ved Puerto Cortez, Honduras. Er dette et billede of virksomheden som A.P. Møller har valgt skal representere Mærsk, det største, rigeste, mest indbringende rederi på de syv verdenshave? Bestyrelsens reaktion på denne rapport vil afsløre deres forpligtigelse til virksomhedens sociale ansvar. 1

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5 Globalization Run Amok A. P. Møller-Mærsk, Their Subsidiaries and Subcontractors in Central America Executive Summary Like many giant corporations with global operations, Mærsk has a de facto double standard for its treatment of workers. In Denmark, the company is well-known for its fair treatment of its workforce. It pays wages that allow workers to enjoy a good standard of living. When its workers decide to form unions and bargain, the company generally does not oppose them. European unions generally are able to bargain fair contracts and enjoy a cooperative relationship with the company. In Central America, a completely different set of standards prevails. European employees of Mærsk would be shocked to witness the situation of Central American employees who perform jobs identical to those in Denmark or other European countries. Central American workers who handle Mærsk containers in ports and on trucks have a very poor standard of living. They are usually subcontracted as owner-drivers or even illegally hired by third parties; therefore they do not have adequate health care coverage, and often must pay for medical care from already inadequate family budgets. Those drivers do not receive any of the social benefits considered in the labor law, such as vacations or paid holidays. They are usually not paid at all for time spent waiting for cargo, although they have no choice but to do so if they hope to continue haul Mærsk containers. They are victims of corruption and treated in an abusive fashion by port dispatchers and security guards. They work under dangerous conditions, operating unsafe equipment and transporting overloaded containers. When workers choose to organize to change those conditions, the company, in most cases has aggressively thwarted them. 3

6 San Salvador, El Salvador Rafael Hernandez, a port truck driver fired for union activity in

7 In El Salvador, the vicious union-busting actions perpetrated in 2001 continue to intimidate workers and prevent them from exercising their rights, while those workers who tried to do so suffer from firings and blacklists. In the Salvadoran port of Acajutla both dock workers and drivers handling Mærsk cargo labor in unsafe conditions. These dock workers have recently been denied their right to form a union. In Nicaragua, independent Mærsk contractors are engaging in attempts to intimidate workers and frustrate their attempts to organize. Honduras offers an important exception to this bleak picture. Honduran truck drivers have successfully organized and bargained industry-wide improvements in wages and conditions. The conclusion of each country section of this report recommends specific actions that Mærsk should take to remedy the specific injustices caused by their local managers, their wholly owned subsidiaries, or the contractors and terminal operators who exist largely on the contracts they receive from Mærsk. Today many socially responsible corporations thriving in the global market are making commitments not only to their direct employees, but also to those workers who toil for contractors dependent on their business. Few of these socially responsible corporations have the resources and the market dominance that Mærsk has in the international shipping business. The conclusions of this report flow directly from the fact finding of the delegation that prepared this report. In addition to the specific remedial actions called for in each country section of the report, it is essential that Mærsk incorporate the principles of the ILO Fundamental Conventions into a corporate code of conduct and work with the unions and union federation that represents its employees. the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), to establish a Framework Agreement to monitor compliance with this code by Mærsk (AP Møller) managers and Mærsk (AP Møller) contractors throughout Central America and the rest of the world. 5

8 San Salvador, El Salvador Raul Lopez, organizer of the port truckers union, called a criminal terrorist by Ned Brantley. 6

9 Globalisering Ude af Kontrol A.P. Møller-Mærsk, dens Datterselskaber og Underleverandører i Mellemamerika Hovedpunkter Som mange andre gigantiske virksomheder på det globale marked er virksomheden Mærsk dobbelt moralsk i behandlingen af dens arbejdere. I Danmark er virksomheden kendt for god behandling af de ansatte, som har råd til at lede en fornuftig tilværelse. Når de ansatte beslutter at danne en fagforening, er virksomheden generelt medgørelig og går ikke imod dem. Europæiske fagforeninger er generelt i stand til at forhandle gode kontrakter og har et godt sammenarbejde med virksomheden. I Mellemamerika fremhersker et helt andet sæt regler. Mærsk s europæiske medarbejdere ville blive chokerede hvis de vidste under hvilke forhold deres mellemamerikanske modparter arbejder. Levestandarder for havnearbejdere og lastvognschauffører i Mellemamerika er meget lave. De bliver ofte ansat som selvstændige chauffører eller til tider ansat illegalt af en tredjepart; de faar derfor ikke sygesikring, og må betale deres hospitalsregninger med penge fra et allerede utilstrækkeligt privat budget. Disse lastvognschauffører modtager ingen af de ydelser som omfattes af fagforenings aftaler, så som ferier eller betalte fridage. De bliver ikke kompenseret for den tid der går med at vente på en ladning, selvom de ikke har noget valg andet end at vente, hvis de vil gøre sig nogen forhåbninger om at fortsætte med at transportere containere for Mærsk. De er ofre for korruption og bliver truet groft af havnefogeder og sikkerhedsvagter. De arbejder under farlige forhold, hvor de betjener udstyr der ikke er sikkerhedsmæssigt forsvarligt og transporterer overlæssede containere. Når arbejdere slutter sig sammen for at ændre disse forhold, er virksomheden i de fleste tilfælde gået til aggresivt modangreb. 7

10 Puerto Cortez, Honduras Salvadoran drivers for Maersk and its contractors, waiting in Puerto Cortez, Honduras, for a container to take back on their return trip to El Salvador. Drivers often wait seven to nine days or more for a return trip. 8

11 De ondskabsfulde angreb som startede i 2001 skaber stadig frygt blandt arbejdere i El Salvador og forhindrer dem i at udøve deres rettigheder, mens de arbejdere som forsøgte at forsvare disse rettigheder er blevet fyret og sat på den sorte liste. I Acajutla havnen i El Salvador arbejder både havnearbejdere og lastvognschauffører for Mærsk under farlige forhold. Disse arbejdere blev for nylig nægtet deres ret til at danne en fagforening. I Nicaragua forsøger selvstændige Mærsk leverandører at skræmme arbejdere for at forhindre dem i at danne fagforeninger. Honduras er en betydningsfuld undtagelse i denne trøstesløse sag. Det er lykkes lastvognschauffører i Honduras at danne en fagforening og forhandle forbedringer i hele industrien for bedre lønninger og arbejdsforhold. Konklusionen for hvert lands afsnit i denne report foreslår specifikke tiltag som Mærsk bør følge for at afhjælpe de uretfærdigheder der bliver forårsaget af deres lokale driftsledere, deres helejede datterselskaber, eller de leverandører og havnefogeder som arbejder under kontrakt for Mærsk. Mange socialt ansvarlige virksomheder, som trives på det globale marked i dag, forpligter sig ikke alene overfor deres direkte ansatte, men også overfor de arbejdere som er underleverandører til virksomheden. Få af disse ansvarlige virksomheder har de resourcer og den markedsandel som Mærsk har i den internationale shipping industri. Konklusioner i denne sammenhæng er direkte baserede på forhold afsløret af delegationen som udarbejdede denne report. Udover specifikke tiltag foreslået i hvert lands sektion i denne report, er det altafgørende at Mærsk inkorporerer ILO s grundlæggende konventioner i virksomhedens etiske regler og arbejde med fagforeninger og fagforenings federationer der representerer dens ansatte for at opbygge rammerne for en aftale gennem de Internationale Transportarbejderes Federation (ITF) for at føre kontrol med dette værdigrundlag udfærdiget af ledelsen for AP Møller-Mærsk og leverandører til virksomheden i Mellemamerika og i resten af verden. 9

12 San Salvador, El Salvador Santiago Alas, a leader of the port truckers union. 10

13 Generelle Indtryk og Anbefalinger Mærsk s lige findes ikke på de syv verdenshave. Mærsk er det største, det rigeste, det mest udbytterige og det dominerende fragtselskab i international shipping. Efter flere år med stigende overskud, offentligjorde virksomheden sit årsregnskab for Nordamerika i 2004 med et rekord overskud på 4 milliarder dollar. Mærsk s dominans i verdenshandlen og i forsendelsen af containere ind og ud af Mellemamerika er unægtelig. Mærsk er nummer ét. Desværre har Mærsk ikke førstepladsen når det kommer til at forsvare menneske rettigheder og arbejderes rettigheder. I de fleste tilfælde fandt delegationen grufulde eksempler på krænkelser af fagforeningsrettigheder for lastvognschauffører og havnearbejderene som har en vigtig role i at læsse skibene og køre containerne til deres destination på land. Denne situation er dog ikke trøstesløs. Og i dette tilfælde, som i andre, kan undtagelsen som bekræfter reglen tilvejebringe en mulighed og en model for en mere ansvarlig opførsel. Mærsk s afdelings leder i Honduras har etableret et samarbejde og en dialog om forhold til Houduras lastvognschauffør- og havnearbejder fagforeninger, hvilket har resulteret i bemærkelsesværdige forbedringer i arbejdsmiljø og lønninger. Endnu vigtigere er at en enkelt driftsleder har skabt et miljø der gør op med tiltag der underminerer fagforeninger og en tradition for at anvende skræmmeteknikker som ellers fremhersker i virksomhedens afdelinger overalt i Mellemamerika. Denne rapport fremsætter observationer så vel som specifikke og generelle anbefalinger. I denne konklusion stiller denne rapport ydermere et vigtigt spørgsmål til Mærsk s virksomhedsledere: Hvilken retning vil virksomheden vælge i fremtiden? Vil virksomheden vælge at gå samme vej som deres virksomhedsledere i El Salvador og bruge aggressive midler for repression? Vil de lade deres leverandører fortsætte med at modarbejde fagforeninger som i Nicaragua, eller vil de støtte et samarbejde og indgå i en dialog med arbejdere og ledere som deres virksomhedsledere synes at have gjort i Honduras? 11

14 Puerto Cortez, Honduras The yard outside Puerto Cortez, Honduras, where Salvadoran drivers for Maersk and its contractors, often wait for days for a container to take back to El Salvador. 12

15 Disse afgørelser sætter Mærsk overfor nogle svære valg. For at kunne bevæge sig i den rigtige retning og virkeliggøre dens målsætning om at være en socialt ansvarlig virksomhed, anbefaler rapporten at virksomheden tilpasser sig følgende punkter: Mærsk (A.P. Møller) bør formelt binde sig til et globalt gældende sæt principper for virksomhedens sociale ansvar, der overholder internationale rettigheder for arbejdere, hvilket inkluderer anerkendelse af arbejderes ret til at være repræsenteret af en fagforening og rettigheden til at forhandle med virksomheden. Dette bør indeholde et på virksomheden- og datterselskabernes side et klart løfte om neutralitet med hensyn til medarbejderes ønske om at tilslutte sig en fagforening. Disse principper bør også gælde for alle underleverandører til A.P. Møller- Mærsk. Disse principper bør indlemmes i en international aftale mellem A.P. Møller-Mærsk og de Internationale Transportarbejderes Union (ITF) med fastsatte procedurer der kan sikre deres fulde og effektive implementation. 13

16 Acajutla, El Salvador Leaders of both the old union in El Salvador s port, Acajutla, and the new one organized to replace it, all of whom have been denied the dock work they used to do. 14

17 Introduction In August 2002, the 40th Congress of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), meeting in Vancouver, Canada, adopted a resolution committing itself to develop a strategy to deal effectively with intermodal transport companies, including a cross sectional approach within the ITF. The resolution continued with a caution on the need to challenge the strategy of companies "...to expand the self-employed/owner-operator(s)...as a means of undermining trade unions." The passage of this resolution led directly to the first ITF cross sector conference focused on a single company, A. P. Møller-Mærsk, in November 2003 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference was attended by 50 delegates from 17 unions throughout the world who represent Mærsk workers. Among the attendees were trade union leaders from the United States, Ghana, Honduras and Nicaragua who reported on efforts by Mærsk management to smash unionization efforts by road transportation drivers who haul Mærsk containers transported on Mærsk ships. In the U.S. during June 2004, diesel rates skyrocketed and port drivers in Miami, Florida, facing the lowest wages in the U.S. trucking industry, staged a peaceful protest at the Port of Miami. The lawyers for A.P. Møller's Universal Terminal went to court and received a temporary injunction to end the protest by port drivers. The company later filed for a permanent injunction and sued the port drivers for monetary damages. Though they did not represent the nonunion drivers involved in the Miami protest, the Teamsters, supported by the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), stepped in to provide assistance to the drivers. At the end of the summer, the Teamsters coordinated demonstrations at the Danish embassy and consular offices in 20 cities across the U.S., protesting Mærsk's policy of harassing, intimidating, and terminating nonunion port truck drivers who demand fair treatment and improved working conditions and seek union representation. In October 2004, at the invitation of 3F, the Teamsters brought three drivers who haul Mærsk containers in the U.S. to Denmark to meet with members of the Danish Parliament and tell their stories of being sacked for participating in 15

18 Acajutla, El Salvador Carlos David Marroquin, a former warehouse worker in the port of Acajutla, and secretary-treasurer of the old port union, who has been unable to work since the port was privatized and he was denied any further employment. 16

19 union organizing drives. Joining the delegation in Denmark were Mac Urata, Inland Transport Section Secretary of the ITF, and Henrik Berlau, Secretary of the Maritime Section of 3F. The delegation requested and was granted a meeting with Mærsk Executive Vice President, Knud Pontoppidan. At the conclusion of the meeting, Pontoppidan pledged that in the future, Mærsk would not retaliate against drivers exercising their rights to join a union. Pontoppidan claimed that they would not negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the drivers, however, since, in his view this would be a violation of U.S. antitrust law since their U.S. road transport drivers are owner-operators. This excuse rings hollow in the face of a 21-year bargaining history between the Teamster represented owner-drivers and the company at the Mærsk-owned Bridge Terminal Transport facility in Fontana, California. In November 2004, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sent Teamster Representative J. Gilberto Soto to Central America to investigate working conditions and union organizing efforts by Mærsk container drivers in Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Soto was assassinated shortly after he arrived in Central America. On March 17, an international trade union delegation assembled in El Salvador to continue the investigation Soto had intended to carry out. The delegation's mandate was to report on the wages and working conditions of the road transport drivers, their efforts to organize into unions and the response by Mærsk management. This report is the product of that investigation. The delegation included representatives from: International Transport Workers Federation (ITF); International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT); Maritime Union of Australia (MUA); United Federation of Danish Workers (3F); and American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO). The delegation traveled to El Salvador and Honduras where it interviewed port truck drivers and other port workers. In addition, in El Salvador it interviewed port workers from Corinto, in Nicaragua. The delegation traveled to the ports of Acajutla, El Salvador, and Puerto Cortez, Honduras, where it interviewed rank-and-file drivers and observed conditions directly. 17

20 Acajutla, El Salvador Casual laborers in the port of Acajutla wait for jobs with their children, in the yard where Honduran truck drivers wait for days for loads to bring back to Honduras. 18

21 In Honduras, delegation members Ron Carver and Antonio Rodrigues Fritz spoke with Mærsk general manager Rodrigo Artavia. In a cordial conversation, Artavia said that only a prior commitment prevented him from meeting with the delegation personally, but encouraged the group to speak with workers and union representatives in its investigation and even offered to grant access to their facilities as soon as the remodel work was finished. This report relies on the testimony of workers themselves as the basis for its findings, conclusions and recommendations. The testimony was given freely and often at great length. Workers were very knowledgeable about their working conditions, their labor rights, and the attitude of the company towards their efforts to organize and win better conditions. This report, then, is based on the actual experience of dock workers who load and unload Mærsk containers and truck drivers who haul Mærsk containers. Some of these workers are directly employed by Mærsk s wholly owned trucking subsidiary, BIT. Some work for subcontractors or terminal operators. Their experience often contradicts Mærsk s stated policies concerning working conditions and labor relations. The experiences of workers themselves are the best source for understanding how those policies are, or are not, implemented in real life. Yet it should also be noted that Mærsk is by no means the worst employer in the region s trucking industry. It is, however, a company which is a major global corporation and one which is supposedly committed to standards of corporate social responsibility - it is an industry leader and it should be expected that they would set a high standard in respecting basic employee rights and work standards The conclusions and recommendations in this report, therefore, reflect what workers themselves experience, and the problems they have encountered in making the respect for labor rights, not just a written statement, but also a living reality. 19

22 San Salvador, El Salvador Leaders of Nicaragua s dock workers and port truckers unions, at a confernce in El Salvador. 20

23 El Salvador Drivers Fired and Blacklisted when Organizing In 2001 and 2002, port drivers for Mærsk in El Salvador affiliated with a union. During that time, the local Mærsk representative labeled some of the leaders as terrorists, and active participants were denied work for the company and blacklisted throughout the industry. Most have not been able to earn a living transporting containers since then. In 2000, discontent built among Mærsk drivers in El Salvador because of changing conditions as a result of SeaLand s purchase by Mærsk in SeaLand, for instance, had a history of paying 50 quetzales daily for the time drivers spent waiting to pick up a container for the second leg of the round trip from El Salvador. Mærsk discontinued those payments. Mærsk then set up a subsidiary, BIT, which began to give out contracts for transporting containers, which drivers formerly received from Mærsk directly. BIT itself had no trucks, says Santiago Alas, but by acting as an intermediary between us and Mærsk, the company turned us into subcontractors. BIT also charged drivers for the loads they received. The problem of the waiting time got worse, Alas remembers. I once had to wait in Puerto Cortez, in Honduras, for 16 days to get a return load. They didn t pay me anything for the time or for what it cost me to eat while waiting. The anger of the drivers came to a head when Mærsk and BIT imposed two additional requirements on drivers. First, the companies insisted that drivers take lie detector tests to maintain their employment status, and pay 300 cordobas for the privilege. The questions had nothing to do with our jobs, Alas says. I was asked, by a woman examiner, how many time I d slept with a man. My temperature went up and I became very nervous. They asked if I belonged to a union or was a union leader. Drivers were asked how they would react to seeing an eight-year-old girl with no clothes on or if they d ever had any conversations with drug dealers about carrying drugs. They were asked if they d robbed more than 100 colones from their employer. Mærsk and BIT also began putting security guards, employed by the Wackenhut Corporation (a security firm with a long anti-labor record in the U.S.) in the cabs to accompany drivers. They guards wouldn t let us eat on the job, or even stop the truck to go to the bathroom, recalls Rafael Hernandez. 21

24 Acajutla, El Salvador Drivers routinely wait a week or more for a return load to Honduras. With no pay for waiting time they sleep in their trucks or hammocks. 22

25 Guards were armed with shotguns, and would ride in the passenger seat pointing it at drivers, or sticking out of the window, frightening the drivers in other vehicles. As drivers began talking about the conditions, in their first efforts to organize themselves, Alas was fired along with a number of others. The company gave as a reason that they d failed the lie detector test, although the test had been administered at least 12 months earlier. Nevertheless, drivers continued to organize. One of their leaders, Raul Lopez, made contact with a local union that agreed to give them assistance, the Sindicato Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Industria de Transporte y Conexos (the National Union for Workers in the Transport and Connected Industries). Alas announced the beginning of the organizing drive over the radio that drivers carried in their truck cabs. The union began collecting signatures of drivers joining the nascent union and quickly gained the support of 300 of the 450 drivers then hauling Mærsk cargo. On January 9, 2001, we tried to present our demands to Ned Brantley, Mærsk s Managing Director, recounts Raul Lopez. He met with us on January 17 and asked me what we wanted. I told him we wanted a fair distribution of work for us all, and at least four trips a month, enough to support our families. We were only getting two and using up all the money we were paid in expenses. We told him that in order to pay our bills our trips should last a maximum of three days. At the time, we were spending up to 12 and 15 days in port waiting for a load and getting the same pay. We wanted the dispatchers, who they employed, to stop taking bribes to give drivers trips. He said this didn t interest him and that we weren t working for Mærsk. But I told him that we were hauling Mærsk s cargo through BIT. Mærsk made no agreement with the drivers and instead began a campaign against the union. Dispatchers began warning drivers not to join, and even tried to discourage them from speaking with workers like Alas, who was no longer offered work assignments after the beginning of Finally, the union decided to stop work in order to get the company s attention. On August 8, 2001, drivers stopped their vehicles. The focus of the stoppage was at border crossings, where workers refused to get back into their trucks and continue hauling their loads. Over the radio, dispatchers warned that anyone participating in the stoppage would be fired and that the owners of the vehicles would be banned from receiving future work. 23

26 Acajutla, El Salvador 24 A Honduran driver for Tranycop, a contractor to Maersk, waiting for a load to bring back to Honduras.

27 The company immediately began to try to find ways to disarticulate our movement, Lopez said. The company began contracting with a number of other transport businesses, dispersed over a wide area, to make it difficult for the drivers to get organized. Drivers weren t fired directly, said Gilberto Garcia, a staff member at the Centro de Estudios y Apoyo Laboral (Center for Labor Study and Support, or CEAL), which provided support for the drivers. Instead, the company announced a restructuring, in which they were effectively pushed out. Mærsk introduced a new company which had its own trucks. This company got all the loads, leaving the drivers who had tried to organize with no work. They were told that there wasn t any work available for them. After a month in which they weren t given a single load, the effect was the same as firing them. Lopez estimates that 200 drivers lost their jobs at Mærsk following the strike. The company began to fire us and we weren t able to get a single container no matter what, Hernandez recalls. On August 24, I myself was fired because I belonged to the union. I was told this directly by Juan Ayala, a traffic coordinator for BIT. Hernandez was informed of his firing as he was picking up a load in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. When he took his load to customs, the armed guard in his truck told him to take it to the company yard instead. Hernandez refused, saying the shipment s documents required him to deliver it to customs instead. After doing so, he had a seizure and was taken to the hospital. He was unable to work for eight months afterwards and still suffers its effects today. In public statements, Brantley called the drivers criminals and said he d never sit down and talk with them. A deputy in the national Legislative Assembly showed drivers a letter written by Brantley, calling them terrorists. He used the same phrase in communicating with members of the U.S. Congress, telling them he was being threatened physically, that he feared he d be kidnapped and had sent his wife out of the country. Brantley referred to Lopez as a criminal terrorist. During El Salvador s civil war from 1978 to 1989, this was the phrase used by the military to describe people involved in popular social movements. This was used to delegitimize any form of social struggle, Garcia explains. The consequences that often followed were the disappearance or assassination of the people labeled in this way. Even after the war was over, social activists continued to be imprisoned after being called criminal terrorists, with no actual evidence of illegal activity. 25

28 26 Acajutla, El Salvador A Honduran driver for Tranycop, a contractor to Maersk, waiting for a load to bring back to Honduras.

29 When a powerful person in this country calls someone a terrorist, Garcia explains, this is the same as threatening them with acts of violent repression. The situation in El Salvador is very well-known among political leaders in the United States. I have no doubt that Brantley knew the serious implications of this phrase. Eventually, the State Department and the U.S. Embassy conducted an official investigation of the CEAL activities supporting the drivers, and its relationship with the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, an international labor support apparatus organized by the AFL-CIO. Former U.S. Ambassador Robert White went to El Salvador to investigate Brantley s allegations and found no evidence of any misconduct on the part of the drivers or CEAL. The purpose was to create a scandal, to pretend that he was the victim, not the drivers who had been fired, Garcia said. Following the work stoppage, the pro-union drivers found they couldn t get work from other motor carrier or shipping companies either. I ve been unemployed for four years, since the strike, because I m known as an active union supporter, Alas said. Hernandez has had the same experience. I haven t been able to get work for any other company since then because I supported the union. There s a blacklist, he said. 27

30 Acajutla, El Salvador A security guard armed with a shotgun walks away from the truck which he accompanied on its journey from Honduras to the port of Acajutla. 28

31 El Salvador: Bad Conditions Persist As a consequence of the lost strike and union-building effort in 2001, drivers today say conditions and wages remain very poor. About 60 drivers work directly for BIT on the San Salvador-Puerto Cortez run, and about 100 owneroperators. The owner-operators are paid $120 for a round trip. Once in Puerto Cortez, however, they have to wait for days to pick up another load. According to owner-operators in the waiting area outside the port, a seven-day wait is normal for them. As was the case before the strike, they are not paid for the time they spend waiting. There is no running water in the waiting yard and the bathrooms are so filthy that drivers say they can t use them. In the port itself, while loading and unloading, drivers say they aren t permitted to use the bathrooms there. In an impromptu meeting in the yard, many in a group of 30 drivers said they remembered the fate of the old union in One asked, If we try to do anything about our problems, how do we know that the same thing won t happen to us that happened to drivers in 2001? They worried that if they tried to organize again, they would also lose their jobs. These drivers were unaware of any commitment by Mærsk, BIT or any other shipping company or transporter that their labor rights would be respected. Drivers additionally feared that the Salvadoran government would be hostile to any such efforts, given the fate of the union for dockworkers. We know the government in El Salvador doesn t want unions, another driver said. It s very hard to organize unions here. We accept a terrible system because there s no alternative. He explained that owner-operators felt themselves in a precarious position because some contractors are now trying to monopolize all the transport. Neither driver even wanted to give his name. 29

32 Acajutla, El Salvador Francisco Palencia Espinoza, a Honduran driver for Maersk, waits with his truck for a load to return to Honduras. 30

33 Recommendations The delegation found clear evidence that Mærsk was directly responsible for serious violations of the right of truck drivers to organize a union and bargain with the company. There is evidence that Mærsk officials: Made threats to prevent workers from joining a union; Refused to bargain with the union organized by the truckers--interrogated workers to determine their union sympathies and invaded their privacy in the course of those interrogations; Illegally denied work to drivers based on those interrogations; Denied work to drivers to punish them for joining a union and engaging in concerted, collective industrial action. Made threats and accusations against union leaders which could have been used as pretexts for political repression and extra-judicial acts against them; According to the truck drivers, they created and circulated a blacklist, denying work to drivers who participated in the 2001 strike; and Organized an investigation of organizations supporting the drivers by the US government with the intention of destroying their political legitimacy. These actions are serious violations of Salvadoran labor law, and of the conventions of the International Labor Organization which protect the rights of free association and collective bargaining. The powerful influence of Mærsk s economic presence in El Salvador has not only given it de facto immunity from prosecution for its illegal conduct, but also has the effect of further intimidating its workforce by convincing them that their labor rights will not be effectively enforced. Truck drivers currently hauling Mærsk containers remain fearful that they will suffer the fate of the drivers involved in the 2001 organizing drive if they also choose to form a union. The illegal intimidation, which began in 2001, therefore continues to the present. Mærsk has materially benefited from these illegal actions, successfully maintaining the poor economic and working conditions for truckers the union sought to change in The company claims to operate by principles that ensure good conditions and living wages for workers employed in its operations, and states it will respect their labor rights. But it renders this commitment meaningless if Mærsk does nothing to remedy the effects of its illegal actions in

34 Acajutla, El Salvador Francisco Palencia Espinoza shows the bad condition of the truck he drove to Acajutla, and which he ll have to drive back to Honduras. 32

35 Though the Mærsk manager, Edward Brantley, who was responsible for some of the most outrageous actions, is no longer in El Salvador, the company has done nothing to remedy the consequences of his illegal conduct. The company s silence has the effect of covering the conduct up, and effectively perpetuating it. Mærsk has done nothing to convince drivers that there is any meaningful change in the company s attitude. Therefore, the delegation makes the following recommendations: That Mærsk offer to reinstate the drivers illegally denied work in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and ask its contractors to offer them work. That Mærsk announce publicly that it will abide by all Salvadoran labor laws and all international labor conventions, that it will take no action against drivers if they choose to organize a union or engage in legal industrial action, and will immediately negotiate a fair contract with them if they choose to organize. That Mærsk publicly apologize to Raul Lopez and other drivers illegally accused of being criminal terrorists. Dock Workers Denied Union Rights in the Salvadoran Port of Acajutla In El Salvador s principal port, Acajutla, approximately 1,200 workers are employed, including 480 longshoremen. Dockworkers are currently employed by seven private companies who operate terminals in the port. They are: OPSSA, COPESE, OyM, Neparsa, Remarsa, SYCSA and ServiPacific. Until September 2001, Acajutla port workers were employed by the state port authority, CEPA, which owned the port property and administered terminal operations. The union for port workers, the Sindicato de la Industria Portuaria de El Salvador (the Union of the Port Industry of El Salvador), was 50 years old. During the civil war we worked 12-hour shifts, unloading bombs and ammunition in very dangerous conditions, and the government never complained about our willingness or ability to do the work, says Carlos David Marroquin, Secretary-Treasurer of the old longshore union, and a former warehouse worker. Nevertheless, on September 11, 2001, the Salvadoran military occupied the port and the airport. Both were militarized (placed under military authority) for the first time in Salvadoran history. Francisco Flores, then-president of El Salvador, called the union members terrorists and guerrilleros. 33

36 Acajutla, El Salvador Security guards armed with shotguns, who have accompanied trucks carrying Maersk cargo from Honduras to the port of Acajutla. 34

37 At the time of the militarization, 38 port guards were immediately terminated. The following January, workers were fired. By May the last 240 workers were also terminated. On January 23, the union was officially dissolved by the government, and thrown out of its office in the port. Union members haven t been let back into the building since then. The operation of the terminals was privatized. One terminal operator, OPSSA, is owned by the family of Francisco Flores. The Salvadoran government told workers they could reapply for their old jobs, but with the new private operators. The told people they d be liquidated, but they d get jobs with the private operators, Marroquin says. But they didn t say how much they d be paid. When longshoremen were employed by CEPA they had a union contract with a set wage for every job. Working two shifts a day, four days a week, dockers could make $125 per day or $25,000 a year. The sons and daughters of people who couldn t themselves read or write, humble people, were able to go to the university, he said. The new wage was $12 per day--cutting the daily income of longshoremen by more than 90 percent. Since January 2002, the union has made three attempts to reorganize. On May 7, 2002, leaders of the old union called a meeting of all former members working in the port. Salvadoran labor law stipulates that had 25 percent of the former members attended, the union would have regained its legal status. But members were threatened that if they went to the meeting, they wouldn t be allowed to enter the port area, and would therefore lose their jobs. These threats were made by CEPA officials, according to leaders of the former union. They were believable to the workers because, since disbanding the former union the port authority has still refused to permit 25 of its former leaders to enter the port area, including Marroquin and Eduardo Fuentes Ordoñez, former chief grievance officer and dock worker. The next reorganization attempt was made in September During the election campaign that year, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), El Salvador s leftwing electoral party, and former guerilla movement, made a public commitment to demilitarize the port and recognize the union. FMLN deputies tried to get these changes adopted by the National Assembly, and publicly denounced the violations of labor rights in the port. But their proposal was only supported by the party s own delegates who were not a majority. After the election, no further effort was made to introduce legislation reinstating the union and its members. 35

38 Acajutla, El Salvador The outdoor food restaurant operated by two women to provide for drivers waiting in the port of Acajutla for loads to bring back to Honduras. A meal here costs $

39 That s when we decided to organize a new union, Ordoñez explains. On December 6, 2004, 41 workers, all employed at the time by the terminal operators, signed a notarized document stating that they were constituting a new union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Portuaria de El Salvador (the Union of the Workers in the Port Industry of El Salvador). They had a meeting to officially form the union. Under Salvadoran labor law, if 35 workers in the same industry sign such a statement, the union has the right to legal status. On December 7, the workers presented the documents to the Ministry of Labor. On December 13, the Ministry notified the terminal operators that the legally-required number of employees had signed documents forming a union. On December 14 the employers responded that the workers who had signed the petition were not employed by them. That morning, when those workers had presented themselves as usual, they had been denied work. The companies told them this was because they d formed a union. On February 14, the Ministry of Labor denied legal status to the union, saying that the workers who signed the documents were not employed by the terminal operators. Since December, 36 of those workers have been blacklisted and been unable to work for the terminal operators. According to both current and former port workers, conditions have deteriorated, along with wages. In the course of eight hours, a crew of workers will unload 120 boxes, with a crew of four longshoremen, two lashers and one crane driver, who uses the crane on the ship. They say they don t receive overtime pay, despite a law requiring an overtime premium after seven hours. There s no fixed payday, and workers get paid days after they work. Dock workers are told they can t eat during the work day, despite the fact that employers are required to provide a half-hour meal break. They sometimes have to work three straight shifts without eating, if the operator is in a hurry to unload and load a ship. The employer is required to make payments to the Social Security health care system, including money deducted from workers wages. According to dockers, however, when they get sick and go to the Social Security hospital, they discover that the employer hasn t paid for them, and instead has pocketed the payments. Workers injured on the job have discovered they don t have health insurance even for emergency, work-related injuries, and have to cover the doctor bills themselves. 37

40 San Pedro Sula, Honduras Drivers for BIT in the waiting area provided by the company for its unionized Honduran drivers. 38

41 The wharves are a high-risk environment, but dock workers labor without gloves, hardhats, masks, safety belts, nets or even ladders. When they have to climb a stack of containers, they have to climb up the containers themselves or a spreader hoists them up. They have to work in this dangerous way even when it s raining. According to the blacklisted workers, one man, Manuel Manzilla, broke his leg on the Sunday morning before the delegation s visit. He wasn t taken to the Social Security hospital, because the companies try to hide the people who get injured. Recommendations The delegation found no evidence that Mærsk is directly responsible for the decision by the Salvadoran government to privatize port operations, or to withdraw legal status from the old union and deny it to the new one. Nor did it find evidence that it is responsible for the termination and blacklisting of port workers. Mærsk, however, has been the beneficiary of the drastic decline in wages and conditions and is the indirect employer of the workers involved. As the port s largest shipper, its cargo and the income it generates sustains the terminal operators. The port workers load and unload Mærsk ships, handle Mærsk containers, and make the movement of its cargo possible. Mærsk professes to operate by principles that ensure good conditions and living wages for workers employed in its operations, and to respect their labor rights. It renders this commitment meaningless if the company hides behind the legal rubric that it does not employ the dock workers directly, and allows the terminal operators, who are totally dependent on Mærsk economically, to maintain the present conditions. Further, its economic presence allows it to exercise powerful influence on the Salvadoran government itself. Therefore, the delegation makes the following recommendations: That Mærsk demand of the Salvadoran government: º That it recognize the legal rights of the new union for dock workers, and not allow the terminal operators to use illegal terminations as a pretext for denying it recognition; and º That it withdraw any bans or orders that blacklisted dock workers not be allowed within the port area. 39

42 San Pedro Sula, Honduras A driver for BIT gets the paperwork for a load. 40

43 That Mærsk require the terminal operators, with whom it contracts for the movement of cargo, to: º Rehire the workers illegally terminated or refused work for signing the documents establishing the new longshore union; º Provide wages that can support a fair standard of living for port workers; º Abide by Salvadoran law regarding wages, conditions of work and payments to Social Security; and º Negotiate a fair contract with the union for port workers. That Mærsk cooperate with a public investigation by the Salvadoran Commission on Human Rights of the violation of human and labor rights among its employees in 2001, and agree to abide by its recommendations; and That Mærsk provide wages and/or cargo rates to drivers that can support a fair living standard, pay for all time spent waiting for containers, allow workers adequate time for eating and physical necessities, and ensure that its security guards act with respect towards drivers and the public. Labor Rights Violated for Nicaragua Port Truckers In Nicaragua s port of Corinto, Mærsk is the largest shipper, handling the overwhelming majority of the containers coming in and out of the harbor. Mærsk uses many contracting companies to haul containers, and about 200 independent drivers. One of the contractors is Transamerica, a company with 20 trucks. Another company working for Mærsk is TMM, Transportación Maritima Mexicana, with 10 trucks. The Nicaraguan union for port truckers, Sindicato Guillermo Rosalas Silipili de Transporte Terrestre, is six months old and has organized the Transamerica drivers. Drivers cite low wages and the lack of safety equipment as their chief reasons for organizing a union. Workers get a monthly salary, although the company wants to change this to pay per trip. Right now the wages are about $220 per month, plus benefits. The company cut workers pay $50 per month last year, which was one reason why they started to organize the union. Transamerica opposed the union effort. When managers became aware of it the entire executive board of the union was called to San Jose, Costa Rica, where the company has its main office. There they were told to resign from the union. 41

44 San Pedro Sula, Honduras 42 Driver Edwin Reynaldo Suazo shows the identification card provided by BIT to its unionized Honduran drivers.

45 The managers said they d never had unions in another country, and that they followed the Costa Rican idea of solidarismo. Solidarismo is a paternalistic Costa Rican system that combines paternalism with a concerted intimidating campaign to prevent workers from organizing unions. The board members came back, and explained the company s proposal. The workers accused the board members of betraying them, and then began the legal process for starting collective bargaining. We ve had four sessions of negotiations with this company and the Labor Minister so far, said Cristobal Garcia, and so far we have not been able to reach an agreement. The company said it wasn t in good shape, so we asked for an audit. So far we haven t seen one. The union alleges that one of its leaders, Rafael Correa, was fired after being accused of being stopped by the police. Union leaders believe this was a pretext, since other workers with similar problems haven t been fired, and that the real reason for termination was his union activity. Union members say that hostile attitude by Transamerica has discouraged other workers from organizing. Drivers for TMM, for instance, are all afraid to join the union, Cristobal said. At another company, Transporte Hernandez, a motor carrier with 200 trucks, workers tried to organize a union in All seven people on the union executive board were fired. The union is continuing to organize workers there, but under the table, Garcia said. Owner operators working for Mærsk are paid by distance. For driving from Corinto to Managua and back, loaded each way, a distance of 154 kilometers, a driver is paid 4500 cordobas (15 Cordoba per U.S. dollar). The trip takes three and a half to five hours. Owner-operators have to pay a shipping agent 4-5 percent of the value of the contract to get a load. They do 3-4 trips a week, depending on distance. The chassis belong to the contracting companies in the case of salaried drivers, and to Mærsk in the case of owner-operators. Drivers complain about maintenance problems with Mærsk trailers. Often the brakes on them are defective. Drivers also say Mærsk fills containers that should have only tons with as much as 22 tons. This causes problems for drivers, since their trucks have to be adjusted, and sometimes the excess weight causes their tires to go out, brakes are more likely to fail, the trucks are difficult to control in emergency maneuvers and on winding mountain roads. Drivers are instructed to drive at night, which is more dangerous, to avoid the weigh stations, since the law puts a maximum of 43

46 San Pedro Sula, Honduras BIT drivers wait for the company dispatcher to call them for their next load. 44

47 20 tons per container. If a driver protests, he won t get another job. But if they catch him at the weigh station, he can lose his license or have it suspended. Drivers have to pay bribes to avoid this. About three-quarters of the containers are overweight. Owner-operators say they won t get work if the company knows they re in the union. There is no written policy that states this, but workers believe it to be true. Recommendations The delegation found no evidence that Mærsk is directly responsible for the decision by Transamerica to oppose the union, or for the termination of workers by Transportes Hernandez. Mærsk, however, is the indirect employer of the workers involved and these motor carriers are dependent on Mærsk for their contracts. Mærsk s professes to ensure good conditions and living wages for workers employed in its operations, and to respect their labor rights. It renders this commitment meaningless if the company allows the container transporters to violate labor rights and maintain the present conditions. Further, Mærsk is directly responsible for the conditions of owner-operators that work directly for them. Therefore, the delegation makes the following recommendations: That Mærsk require of Transamerica, as a condition for continuing to receive contracts: º That it promptly reach an agreement with the union on a fair contract; and º That it rehire Rafael Correa. That Mærsk require of Transportes Hernandez, as a condition for continuing to receive contracts: º That it rehire the seven terminated union leaders; and º That it recognize the union for the drivers, and promptly bargain a fair contract. That the highest Mærsk official in Nicaragua make a public statement, which should be written and handed out to all port truckers, both those employed directly and those employed by contractors, stating that it 45

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