2 May 2018

Sudan: Strike By 20,000+ Cargo Workers Paralyses Port Sudan

Photo: UNEP
Waves breaking on a coral reef jut off the marine terminal in Port Sudan.

Port Sudan — More than 20,000 cargo workers carried out a comprehensive strike in all ports of Port Sudan for nine hours on Tuesday in protest against the state government establishing holding companies to replace the association of cargo and unloading workers.

A number of cargo workers told Radio Dabanga that the strike led to total paralysis in the ports of Port Sudan and stopped the movement of landing and shipping of goods.

They said that the security forces and police besieged the Northern and Southern Port and the security apparatus detained the head of the Cargo Workers Union, Tahir Omar, before releasing him hours later.

The workers considered the establishment of holding companies to be managed by influential people instead of the association of unloading and unloading workers as damaging to them. They say that the current system has ensured stability of work in the port for decades with a system acceptable to all workers.

They said the government began to establish holding companies by appointing administrative officers to start the implementation of the companies' project which led to widespread protests among the workers.

Workers conditioned resumption of work at ports on suspension of the procedures for establishing holding companies.

Beja National Congress

Dirar Ahmed Dirar, President of the Beja National Congress announced his support of the strike of cargo and unloading workers.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, he called on all his party members to participate in the general strike until their demands are met.

He stressed the Beja National Congress' categorical rejection of the establishment of holding companies for the workers of cargo and unloading and considered it to be displacement of the workers.

He renewed his rejection of the privatisation of the southern port and held the state Governor Hamid Ali for any escalation in the state and demanded his dismissal.

Union leader

The workers' leader at the port, Osman Tahir, explained the halt of the movement of the landing of goods from the ships in the northern port of Port Sudan because of the strike.

He told Radio Dabanga that the demands of workers have risen to the dismissal of the governor and called on the state government to stop the procedures for the establishment of holding companies immediately.

Tahir warned that the establishment of holding companies will lead to a widening of the state of congestion in the state, explaining that the residents of the Red Sea rely on their income on the port.

He described the governor's handling of the crisis of workers of cargo and unloading as irresponsible, stressing the workers' adherence to the association of cargo and unloading and categorical rejection of the corporate system.

Minister responds

The Minister of Investment and Industry in the state, Mohamed Hanis who is overseeing the file of the cargo and unloading associations denied in press statements the workers and their union's accusations and described them as false.

He pointed out that they launched an initiative to reform and develop the sector of cargo and unloading with the aim to provide a stable and attractive work environment on terms of rewarding service, stressing that there is no retreat from the programme of reform and development of the sector.

Later, the workers ended their strike after nine hours. The lifting of the strike came after the intervention of the director of the security apparatus in the Red Sea state who asked to be given an opportunity to negotiate with all the relevant parties to put an end to the crisis.

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