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#79: Longshoremen block Haitian port for 3rd day (fwd)


Longshoremen block Haitian port for 3rd day 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (June 30, 1999 8:20 p.m. EDT
http://www.nandotimes.com) - Striking longshoremen shut down the Haitian
capital's port for a third day Wednesday, protesting plans to privatize
the port authority. Since the strike began Monday, the government has
lost an estimated $120,000 in customs duties. Cargo ships have sat idle
in Port-au-Prince's harbor or sailed away with their containers. 
Hundreds of workers fear they will lose their jobs when the government
puts the port authority up for sale later this year. The state-owned
electricity and telephone companies and the airport authority also are
to be sold. Workers accuse the port's director, Julio Julien, of
mismanagement and want an audit of port authority accounts, union leader
Robert Paul said. Julien denied any wrongdoing and said he wouldn't
resign. Demonstrators supporting the port strike set fire to tire
barricades on a busy seaside boulevard and vowed to take their
"anti-corruption" protest to other state agencies and businesses in the
coming weeks. Airport union leaders said they were preparing a strike to
demand the resignation of director Roland Neptune,whom they accuse of
incompetence. Street protests have wracked Port-au-Prince since April,
causing millions of dollars in lost business. Most of the protests, led
by supporters of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, were staged to
demand the firing of police commanders accused of not doing enough to
fight crime. Aristide and his supporters also oppose the government's
privatization program.