Operations at Aqaba Container Terminal (ACT), Jordan were halted on Monday morning as new dispute between the management and employees unravels at the facility.
The disagreement resurfaced as workers opposed the new working hours regime proposed by the terminal’s management, introducing an eight-hour shift instead of two shifts split over 12 hours.
The workers are opposing the switch as their income will be cut with the reduced working hours.
The new eight-hour shift system has been introduced as a result of a ruling by the Jordanian Labour Court on November 10, which indicated that the terminal had the right to adjust its shift system to meet its business demands.
The ruling by the Labor Court concludes the extensive negotiation process that began in March 2014 and went through mediation process by the Ministry of Labor, before the case was transferred to the Labor Court for a final ruling.
Commenting on the ruling ACT’s CEO Jeppe Jensen said ACT would honor the commitment it had previously made to its employees on numerous benefits such as improvements to the housing allowance, university scholarship program, employee profit share, early retirement program, annual leaves, in addition to the new benefits offered such as education support, life insurance for all employees and a crane operator allowance.
According to ACT, the operations were halted as workers tried to enter the terminal by force in order to reinforce the previous shift pattern.
The Jordan Times quoted an ACT employee as saying that Gendarmerie forces used tear gas to disperse workers who were trying to enter the terminal on Tuesday morning.
ACT’s CEO is quoted by the national newspaper as saying that all employees involved in the disruption will receive sanctions, including contract terminations.
The workers have already staged two strikes this year, in July and October, demanding better pay and benefits.
APM Terminals Jordan operates, manages and markets ACT.
World Maritime News Staff