International Transport Workers’ Federation focuses on African ports over woeful labour relations
Analysis carried out by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has found an emerging pattern of labour rights violations throughout one of the world's most profitable stevedoring companies: International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).
The ITF will now focus on ports in which ICTSI seeks to expand, including the multi-purpose terminal in Kribi, Cameroon, a new port in Guinea-Bissau, the Motuka Port in Port Moresby and the Port of Lae in Papua New Guinea.
ICTSI is currently lobbying the Government of Cameroon to join a local consortium operating the multi-purpose terminal in Kribi.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin said today, “The ITF is concerned that issues seen elsewhere in ICTSI’s global network will extend to Cameroon, if their bid is successful.”
“Patterns are emerging on ICTSI’s docks. A pattern of paying poverty wages. A patterns of failing to respect workers’ right to freedom of association. A pattern of poor safety standards endangering workers’ lives. A pattern of illegally out-sourcing jobs to labour-hire companies.”
“ICTSI’s failure to resolve protracted industrial disputes at the Port of Toamasina, Madagascar has impacted terminal clients, including global fashion brands such as Levi’s and Esprit. This failure should stand as a warning to the government of Cameroon when assessing ICTSI’s bid. The company’s lack of appropriate governance structures and failures to engage with unions are not only a risk to workers – they are also a risk to the reputation of the regions and countries in which they operate.
The report, launched today shows that severe labour violations can be found throughout ICTSI’s global network.
“ICTSI has grown ambitiously over the last decade, yet as this report shows, their growth has not been accompanied by sufficient managerial oversight and appropriate global governance to ensure productive industrial relations, compliance with local laws, international labour conventions,” said Crumlin.
In response to this damning report, ITF affiliates within ICTSI’s global terminals and shipping routes, are taking part in lawful actions worldwide in a renewed international push against injustice.
“Today we have a clear message for ICTSI: end the disputes at the Port of Jakarta and the Port of Toamasina in Madagascar. Reverse the emerging pattern of labour rights violations throughout your network. And treat your workers with the dignity and respect that all workers deserve.
“The ITF, and our union affiliates, are committed to supporting port operators who provide good jobs and industrial relations practices in their ports. Together we are committed to ensuring that ICTSI does not extend its pattern of labour violations into new terminals,” added Crumlin.
Governments, investors and financiers that seek to partner with ICTSI should be concerned about this emerging pattern of violations, which indicate that as the company has grown to become a global ports player, it has not put in place sufficient oversight measures to ensure compliance with global norms and standards across their whole network.
ICTSI’s governance failures suggest that the company’s future expansion may be accompanied by increasing volatility and risk due to protracted industrial disputes and safety failures.