KMU slams entry of security forces in North Harbor days before takeover
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Tightening repression pushes port workers to launch massive action
Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed the entry of at least 200 additional security guards in Manila North Harbor yesterday, calling it a desperate move of the new port operator to suppress workers who are against the scheduled private takeover of the port on Feb. 15.
KMU said the guards entered the port terminal along with 120 units of forklift. Elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were seen roving along the port area. A military barracks was even set up in the vicinity of North Harbor.
“All these efforts to intimidate and harass port workers prove that the Arroyo regime is very willing to cooperate with the winning bidders in violently implementing North Harbor’s privatization,” said KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog.
KMU tried to negotiate with Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. (MNHPI), the joint venture of Metro Pacific Investment Corp. owned by tycoon Manny Pangilinan, and Harbor Centre which won the bidding. But as of writing, the new port operator still has no response.
“We tried to negotiate to put off the planned retrenchment of more than 5,000 port workers and displacement 35,000 residents from their homes in the port area due to the port’s privatization. Yet the company has so far answered the workers’ demand with tightening repression,” Labog said.
“On the other hand, such desperate security measures reflect the private firms’ fear of the potency of workers’ united action in shutting down the entire operations of the port terminal,” he added.
Labog said the workers’ united action with port area residents in the past have successfully thwarted the private takeover of the port several times. “With the entry of more security forces, MNHPI and the Arroyo regime are pushing workers and residents to resort to a more massive action.”
“KMU’s formations and unions in different regions are also poised to launch a nationwide coordinated picket if the labor department and the Arroyo regime won’t stop the looming mass layoff of port workers,” Labog added.
The labor leader added that KMU is currently coordinating with unions and workers’ formations in other countries on the means of showing support to the fight of North Harbor workers and residents. #
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