Union, arrastre firm nearly clash

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Sunday, July 28, 2013


TROUBLE nearly erupted at Pier 5, Cebu City yesterday when the job of the 25 workers of the United Stevedoring and Dockhandlers Inc.-Associated Labor Union (USDI-ALU) to unload cargo was taken over by the workers of the Cebu Integrated Arrastre (CIA).

Glad Ador Wilfred Rafols, ALU Industrial Relations Officer, said the mv Pedro Calungsod was chartered by 2Go Shipping, which has an exclusive cargo handling agreement with USDI-ALU.

Rafols said that because mv Pedro Calungsod was chartered by 2Go, the 25 USDI-ALU workers have the legal duty to unload and load cargo.

However, CIA workers illegally took over their job upon the arrival of mv Pedro Calungsod, driving them to the sidelines and depriving them of their income.

Art Barrit, ALU education director, said that lawyer Joselito Pedaria, a commissioner of the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) representing the cargo handling service sector, will bring the issue to the CPA Board for arbitration.

Barrit said the ALU leadership is hoping that Pedaria can solve the problem, especially that one of the owners of CIA is Benjamin Akol, another CPA commissioner representing the shipping sector.

Akol also used to be the president and general manager of Oriental Port and Allied Services Corp. (Opascor).

“We are hoping that this will be solved as soon as possible to prevent any trouble at the port. The CIA workers must respect the exclusive cargo handling contract with USDI-ALU,” Barrit said.

Composition

The CPA Board is composed of six commissioners, including Pedaria and Akol. The other four commissioners are Dennis Villamor (business sector), Tomas A. Riveral (cargo handling sector), Carlos Co (business sector) and Vicente Suazo (shipping).

Aside from being a CPA commissioner, Villamor also serves as CPA general manager in concurrent capacity. Riveral, on the other hand, is the president and general manager of Opascor after Akol.

Rafols said yesterday was the second time the CIA workers illegally took over the job of the USDI-ALU workers. But the first incident was settled after the captain of the vessel (not mv Pedro Calungsod) alleged that the boom of their ship did not function and they had to use the gantry crane of CIA.

However, what happened yesterday was a coup of sorts because while USDI-ALU has an exclusive cargo handling contract with 2Go, CIA workers took over, said Rafols.

Authority

Rafols said that because the CPA has jurisdiction and control over all port activities, it is the appropriate authority to conduct the arbitration to settle the issue.

According to Rafols, they don’t want trouble at the port, but if the CIA workers will continue to grab the job of the USDI-ALU arrastre workers and the CPA will fail to settle the problem, then trouble is likely to happen, Rafols said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 29, 2013.

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