Talks underway in effort to prevent possible shutdown of Kingston’s seaport
The Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) has joined forces with the Port Authority of Jamaica in a bid to prevent a potential strike against two shipping lines that have failed to make payments of benefits due to workers it employs in the Port of Kingston.
On Wednesday, opposition spokesman on transport and works Mikael Phillips issued a call for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to intervene in the dispute which he warned could lead to a shutdown of the ports if it is not resolved swiftly.
Phillips further warned that operations at the Port of Kingston could be affected by industrial action as early as next Monday as the SAJ could withdraw the provision of lashing services to vessels calling at the port, which are owned or operated by the non-compliant shipping lines.
Industry sources later confirmed that the National Workers Union and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, which represent the SAJ workforce, had joined in issuing a notice of withdrawal of labour from ships owned and operated by the two shipping lines.
According to the sources, ZIM Integrated Shipping Limited and Mediterranean Shipping have failed to make payments of the labour assessment charge for services provided to their vessels over a two-year period.
The SAJ had repeatedly sought to have the money paid over including using direct negotiation with the two shipping lines and lobbying with Government and regulatory officials to put pressure on the lines to pay.
The association has also launched legal action against the shipping companies, which is slowly going through the courts.