ITF complains to Jordanian Government over Aqaba port arrests

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton
ITF Acting General Secretary Stephen Cotton
ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton

The International Transport Workers’ Federation has contacted the government of Jordan over the arrests on Tuesday of around 150 trade unionists at the Aqaba Container Terminals facility run by APM Terminals.

The port workers had begun a strike on Monday which the police action appears to have been designed to break. Strikebreakers are reportedly being brought in from outside the country. The arrested workers, who included several union leaders, were later released.

The ITF’s Arab World office has raised the matter with the country’s government, and ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton has written to its Prime Minister, stating: “I am writing to you once again with regard to the current dispute at the Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT) operated by the global company APM Terminals, which has led to our affiliate the General Union of Port Workers taking strike action. This followed the stalemate in negotiations over the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement. These negotiations have been ongoing for months – the agreement should have been renewed in June.

“I am shocked to learn that a country such as Jordan, with such a robust democratic tradition has allowed interference by the police forces in a labour dispute

“I would like to re-emphasise that the members of the General Union of Port Workers are professionals and proud of the work that they do, both for the benefit of their company and their nation’s economy. They understand the implications of the strike. However, unfortunately, they felt forced into this situation given the management’s position on good faith negotiations.

“Given the potentially severe consequences of the police intervention and permission by the ACT management, I am requesting that you intervene in this dispute immediately to prevent the situation from deteriorating further. The ITF is hopeful that a resolution can be achieved with your support and guidance.”

The ITF will continue to call for answers from the government and APMT on how the police came to be involved in an industrial dispute, and for urgent measures to resolve the dispute.