Puerto Rico dockers end strike as goods pile up

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Dockworkers who launched a strike that prevented thousands of sea containers containing items such as food and medicine from reaching Puerto Rico in recent weeks have reached a tentative deal with their employer, officials said on Wednesday.

Many in the United States were relieved by the announcement, given the island’s enormous dependence on imports. However, concerns remain as the agreement between the Union of Puerto Rico Dockers and stevedoring company Luis Ayala Colón Sucres, Inc. is only in place for 45 days.

The strike prevented some 4,500 shipping containers and 13 ships from reaching Puerto Rico and 5,000 other containers from leaving the island. It also prompted the homeland government to file a complaint on Monday against unionized workers and the company known as LAC, which handles 80% of all international cargo entering the port of San Juan.

“The situation has reached a breaking point,” the Puerto Rico Port Authority said in the lawsuit.

He is asking for a permanent injunction ordering those prosecuted to assume their responsibilities, noting that he has not been able to collect more than $ 400,000 in costs and fees.

Government chief of staff Noelia García said the lawsuit would only be withdrawn when the agreement between the dockers and the stevedoring company was final. She also hinted that government officials might consider contracting other companies to avoid a repeat.

“Diversity is healthy,” she said. “We will take proactive steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. “

García declined to provide further details.

Hernán Ayala, vice president of the stevedoring company, said there were no plans to prioritize the items.

“We will empty the ships when they arrive,” he said. “It will be done as quickly as possible. “

The workers were on strike in part because they said the company had given workshop duties to managers.

While the strike did not cause serious shortages of life-saving items, the Puerto Rico Hospital Association issued a statement on Tuesday warning that supplies of some medical equipment would run out in two to six weeks as the island faces a spike in COVID-19 cases, it blames on the delta variant.

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