APM Terminals refutes ITF statements on Aqaba Container Terminal

APM Terminals has issued a statement that disputes The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) press release on Aqaba which describes how Jordanian employees within the General Union of Port Workers (GUPW) went on strike last week over contract changes and the company’s failure to negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement at Aqaba Container Terminal, Aqaba, Jordan.

“We find the ITF’s statements misleading, incorrect and not supported by facts. Clearly, the ITF has not received accurate information from its affiliate organization in Jordan. This is counterproductive and results in delays to the regional transportation hub of Jordan and global supply chains. The strike was premature and illegal especially when held during a formal mediation process – which cannot be interpreted as a union victory”, commented APM Terminals Regional CEO, Peder Sondergaard.

ITF describes that the union has won its case and gained victory, including the company waiving all penalties imposed during the strike, in particular rescinding 23 employees dismissed; and a renewed commitment from the Jordanian government to have its union grievances addressed by the national labour court. ITF also states that Jordanian police last week cleared the port strike, arresting 150 people including union leaders, etc.

As background, Aqaba Container Terminal is negotiating a new collective labour agreement with the GUPW. The current labour agreement has been in negotiation since March 2014 and due to expire in June 2014 since no agreement could be reached. Prior to the expiration of the collective labour agreement, the case was referred to the Ministry of Labour for the formal mediation and arbitration process. The matter is now with the Labour Court and the ruling is expected soon. APM Terminals will respect and follow the decision of the Labour Court.

APM Terminals and the local company ACT, support the Right to Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining. Similar to most mature countries around the world, Jordan has a formal labour arbitration system. In Jordan, this takes place through the Ministry of Labour. If the unions and employers cannot agree, the process enters a ‘time out’ with formal mediation and arbitration to seek a solution. During this period, neither the unions nor the employer has the right to take industrial action such as strikes and lock-outs.

Despite the ‘time out’ period, the union held an illegal strike in July and again last week.

When the illegal strike commenced last week, the authorities (Gendarmie) intervened and requested the union strikers to leave the terminal to avoid tension with union members who desired to work at the port. This was not requested by ACT. No force was used although it was reported that four union people were briefly detained on security grounds. ITF’s statement that 150 people were arrested is false.

ITF also describes that ACT had issued penalties during (or as a consequence of) the strike and that 23 people had been dismissed. This is not factually correct; internal regulations were followed and no dismissals took place.

Aqaba Container Terminal has signed a MOU with the local GUPW whereby they have agreed to return to work and respect the formal process already in progress. “The Aqaba Container Terminal looks forward to work with the union to conclude this case and move forward. We have important work to do together to make the Jordanian gateway attractive to global trade”, added Mr. Sondergaard.

Aqaba Container Terminal is the country’s only container terminal – a major artery serving the population of Jordan and the many refugees from surrounding countries who are temporarily seeking shelter in Jordan. The container port’s services are essential to the country and it is in everybody’s interest to move forward and operate the port in a stable, highly efficient and productive manner.

ACT is a joint venture between the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) and APM Terminals — the leading global provider of advanced logistical services — operating via a 25-year build-operate-transfer agreement signed in 2006. The terminal constitutes the logistical and economic backbone of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), serving as the preferred gateway to the Levant region.