APMT rebuffs 'illegal' Aqaba strike

Things are up in the air at Aqaba Container Terminal Things are up in the air at Aqaba Container Terminal

APM Terminals (APMT) says further delays to the regional transportation hub of Jordan, Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT), are expected following a “premature and illegal” strike last week.

According to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), workers represented by ITF-affiliated General Union of Port Workers (GUPW) went on strike last week over contract changed and ACT’s failure to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement due since July – information APMT says is “misleading, incorrect and not supported by facts”.

Things are said to have turned sour soon after the strike began when police raided the protest and arrested 150 workers, including the union’s leaders. Despite this, the union says it maintained its strike and has now “won” its case, including the company’s waiving all penalties imposed during the strike, in particular withdrawing 23 sackings, and a renewed commitment from the Jordanian government to have its grievances addressed by the national labour court.

Peder Sondergaard, CEO, APMT Regional, said: “Clearly, the ITF has not received accurate information from its affiliate organisation in Jordan. This is counterproductive and results in delays to the regional transportation hub of Jordan and global supply chains.”

After ACT and GUPW failed to come to an agreement over a new collective labour agreement, the case was referred to the Ministry of Labour for the formal mediation and arbitration process. APMT says the ruling is expected soon and it will “respect and follow the decision” made.

Since the unions and employers cannot agree, the process has entered a ‘time out’, during which time, neither the unions nor the employer has the right to take industrial action.

“The strike was premature and illegal especially when held during a formal mediation process – which cannot be interpreted as a union victory,” Mr Sondergaard added.

APMT also says the ITF has falsified the reports of 150 arrests and dismissals, stating that the information is “not factually correct”.

Now, ACT has signed a memorandum of understand with the local GUPW whereby they have agreed to return to work and respect the formal process already underway.

ACT is a joint venture between the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) and APMT and is the country’s only container terminal, making it essential to Jordan and surrounding countries.

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