Tuesday, 20 April 2010

North Harbor operator advances P100 million to pay past labor claims

By EMMIE V. ABADILLA
April 19, 2010, 4:27pm

To ensure labor peace and comply with the terms of its government contract, the new North Harbor operator, Manila North Harbour Port Inc. (MNHPI), has advanced over P100 million payments to port and transport workers for their past services.

MNHPI, the joint venture between Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) won the P14.5-billion Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) contract to modernize and operate the port. Already, the consortium absorbed more than 1,000 port workers after signing an agreement with the Association of Transport and Port Workers North Harbor (APTW-NH) last March 30.

“Technically, workers formerly under the employ of port users are now MNHPI employees under our agreement with labor and daily operations of the port are back in full swing,” according to MNHPI spokesperson Tricia Sandejas.

MNHPI took over North Harbor this month, on April 11, 2010 and started paying salaries to the workers they have absorbed four days after. The development came after MNHPI announced that operations of the port will be on a 24-hour basis with port users enjoying a 10 percent reduction in tariff rates. MNHPI reduced tariff rates so that port users can be competitive in terms of lowering their cargo and passenger fees.

Now, only legitimate port users are allowed entry inside the terminals to ensure the smooth entry and exit to and from the Manila North Harbor, as well as the safety of all cargoes, workers, employees and the general public. MNHPI explained that the new security measure is needed to protect passengers and merchants from criminal elements which have been regular fixtures at the port for several years now.

MNHPI officials stressed that the government will not spend a single centavo for the project and that the modernizing the port would not only boost intra-regional trade in the county but would also attract overseas visitors in the coming years. Based on this agreement, the PPA would also retain its sovereign right to regulate the fees and charges at the piers.

The project will raise more than P6.8 billion in revenues for the PPA over 25 years and decrease port rates at an average of 10 to 15 percent. Aside from the absorption of existing port workers, MNHPI is set to hire an additional 5,000 to 10,000 workers for the project.

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