SUNDAY CARGO WORK IS KEY AS DOCK TALKS IN JAPAN RESUME

SUNDAY CARGO WORK IS KEY AS DOCK TALKS IN JAPAN RESUME

Contract bargaining between negotiators for Japan's most powerful stevedore union and representatives of the country's major shipping lines likely will consider the critical issue of Sunday cargo handling over the next few weeks.

Delegations from the 46,000-member Japan Council of Port and Harbor Transport Workers' Unions and the Japan Harbor Transportation Association began discussing the existing "exceptional measures" agreement today but the final fate of the arrangement remains very much in doubt.Under a labor-management agreement in principle reached last July, cargo handling on Sundays has been limited to emergency cases only and to oceangoing full-containerships alone.

In each instance, the owners have had to initiate prior discussions with the union on Friday mornings and specific temporary permission obtained from regional councils of the union.

An official of the Japan Foreign Steamship Association said the arrangement is of the type that usually remains in force for a full year. But he complained that this one ends later this month.

"The present understanding regarding Sunday work on the docks expires as of March 29, so we are counting on negotiators giving the problem their prime consideration during the talks," a spokesman for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha said. ''This is a hot issue for us."

Management officials in all of these cases were required to provide compensatory days off with pay to all dockers handling freight on Sundays and these holidays were required to be within the same week as the Sundays worked.

In addition, Sunday cargo work has been restricted to operations between vessels and container yards.

Handling work has had to be carried out for freight delivered to the container yards on the day previous to the loading and no cargo deliveries have been permitted by the union on the actual day of unloading.

Also, cargo working on Sundays has been strictly limited to the hours between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

At the moment, neither labor nor nor management know for sure what will happen during this month's discussions. Although representatives of the owners hope to see the Sunday cargo handling agreement renewed for at least another year, some union officials would like to see all work on Japan's docks discontinued on both Saturdays and Sundays as a matter of course.

However, shipping analysts stressed last week that the owners are depending on more sensible and understanding executives of the longshoremen's union to prevail at some point in this matter, preferably before April.