The aggressive tactic, affecting around 200 members of ITF affiliate the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, has been taken by United Grain, which is owned by Japanese conglomerate Mitsui. The ITF believes this is part of a bid to pressurise the union into accepting a sub-standard agreement in ongoing negotiations over a new grain contract following the expiration of the existing one last year.
In the letter addressed to president and CEO of Mitsui Limited, Masami Ijima, ITF acting general secretary Stephen Cotton says: “I am writing to you because the ITF and its affiliates are deeply concerned that the ILWU’s members have been locked out by Mitsui’s local management for nearly three months now – since 27th February 2013 – and there does not appear to be any sign of a willingness to return to goodfaith bargaining with the union to resolve this dispute, which is deeply damaging to both Mitsui’s business and reputation.”
“Mitsui is of course one of Japan’s top conglomerates with an international standing and reputation. The ITF is aware of Mitsui’s corporate social responsibility policy, and we now urge you to demonstrate that the company takes its reponsibility towards its global workforce seriously by resolving the dispute in the Port of Vancouver without delay.”
“The ILWU has respresented grain handlers since the 1930s in Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle, Washingon, and in Portland, Oregon. The man and women who work at the Port of Vancouver are simply seeking to negotiate contracts that do not undermine their working conditions, and that allow them to have decent standards of living for their families.”
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