JAPANESE DOCK UNIONS IRON OUT AGREEMENT ON FISCAL '90 CONTRACT

JAPANESE DOCK UNIONS IRON OUT AGREEMENT ON FISCAL '90 CONTRACT

A contract agreement covering work at Japanese ports has been reached, ending the possibility of a dock labor strike this year.

Weeks of on and off bargaining between shipping and port management negotiators and representatives of Japan's longshoremen's unions finally ended in an accord for the Japanese fiscal year that began April 1.The official spokesman for the 50,000-member Japan Council of Port and Harbor Transport Workers' Unions told The Journal of Commerce Thursday that the contract arrangement with the Japan Harbor Transportation Association is in line with his organization's goals.

"At one point in the negotiations it appeared likely that a nationwide port strike would be called as of April 11," the spokesman, Masaya Tamada, acknowledged. "But all's well now and there will be no walkouts. It is all over for another year." A strike would have quickly closed nine major container ports.

Under the new contract, covering the fiscal term ending in March 1991, Japanese stevedores will receive 32 days off each year instead of the previous 28 days and union dockers will not be required to work more than 2,000 hours annually.

In addition, the contract provides for the creation of a model wage scale based upon the age and seniority of the longshoremen. Also, a union-held fund will be established bymanagement to guarantee the stable livelihood of the dockworkers. This fund is to provide pensions or subsidies for union members who have lost their jobs.

The new contract already has resulted in establishment of a joint ad hoc committee assigned the task of ensuring the full collection of authorized fees for harbor transport of freight.

Mr. Tamada stressed that the committee will "take measures necessary to guarantee future compliance with complete implementation of harbor fees which are fixed by the Ministry of Transport."

Evidently the new committee will act as a watchdog body by monitoring all payments and taking complaints concerning such port transportation fees from harbor transport companies, shipping lines and shippers.