Millions lost in Trinidad port industrial action
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, Thursday December 15, 2011 – The word “port” is synonymous with Trinidad but industrial action in the city turned it into a bad word for business people this busy holiday season.
While the striking port workers are back on the job after a 3.5-day stand-off between union and management at the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) head Gregory Aboud placed a staggering multi-million dollar cost on business people who had their containers of goods stranded on the docks during the action.
Aboud is on record as stating that the demurrage on stalled containers cost business people as much as TT$1,000 a day and with 4,000 containers held up from being cleared, business people were likely hit with almost TT$4 million in daily losses.
On top of those costs, Aboud said, Christmas sales and goods were already lost as some cargo ships that could not offload during the strike might not return to the port with the necessary goods for several weeks.
Aboud expressed fear that this fallout would create more disharmony between business and unions and he has joined a private sector-wide call for the issues between workers and management and government owned facilities critical to business to be settled once and for all.
DOMA joined the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association, the Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Greater Tunapuna Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and the Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce in issuing a statement on Monday that lamented that the issues between labour and Government hampered national development, especially in light of the global economic situation.
In the release, the business community a called for a tripartite approach between Government, labour and the private sector.
It called for an urgent meeting with all stakeholders to address the inefficient systems in place at the port, and to reach a national consensus regarding solutions to several lingering issues including bureaucracy, poor productivity, and port congestion as it affects the cost of living in Trinidad and Tobago.
Aboud had noted that the business people struggled with the inefficiencies and unreliability of the port operations, even under normal conditions and if this was not resolved then the national port might find itself undercut as several shipping lines wanted to set up privately owned ports for operations.