Costa Rica: Chiquita in labor dispute amid construction of new port

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Costa Rica: Chiquita in labor dispute amid construction of new port

Correction: Since this article was published we have been contacted by a Chiquita representative who said the company does not expect the port to open until next year at the earliest.

Produce company Chiquita was reportedly forced to hold off on dismissing more than 100 workers based in the Costa Rican city of Limon after a successful legal challenge.

According to local media Seminario Universidad, the multinational had intended to make 110 of its 260 workers redundant on Dec. 22, as a result of a new container port being constructed by APM Terminals.

The article reported that port was expected to open in February, but a Chiquita representative has told Fresh Fruit Portal the company believes this will not happen until next year at the earliest.

The company will reportedly benefit from services provided by the port, including container repair and container unloading. The article reported that other multinationals, such as Dole, had also planned to lay off workers.

After unsuccessful conciliation meetings held in December at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MTSS), the worker union filed a legal challenge with the Limon labor court to halt the move.

The judge reportedly then told Chiquita it could not carry out the dismissals. A conciliatory body is currently being formed, but a union head believes there are more conflicts to come.

"We estimate that when the TCM [new port] starts operations, another 100 workers will be dismissed from Chiquita," general secretary of the Industrial Union of Costa Rican Banana and Pineapple Workers, Maikol Hernández, was quoted as saying.

Hernandez criticized the MTSS as being weak in enforcing agreements that prevent massive dismissals of workers, and also attacked the government for its alleged lack of response to requests made a long time ago that it act to prevent the layoffs anticipated with the opening of the new terminal.

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