Deal reached to end major US port strike

Updated 06 December 2012
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Deal reached to end major US port strike

LOS ANGELES: Negotiators have reached an outline agreement to end a week-long strike crippling the US ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle 40 percent of US maritime imports, mainly from Asia.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the deal late Tuesday after taking part in marathon negotiations the night before, and the union said it expects to ratify the deal and resume work on Wednesday.
The strike by clerical workers at the key US transport gateway, which constitutes the world’s seventh-biggest commercial harbor, has been costing billions of dollars to the local and wider US economy.
Union officials said late Tuesday they had succeeded in winning new protections to prevent jobs from being outsourced.
“This was a community effort that will benefit working families for many years to come,” said John Fageaux, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63-OCU.
Stephen Berry, chief negotiator for the Harbor Employers Association, said “tonight is the end of a very long journey.”
“Both sides had principles that are very important to them,” he said. “The employers have struggled since the global economic crisis in 2008. Cargo volumes have dropped and they’ve not returned to those levels.”
The strike by about 800 clerical staff from the ILWU began at a terminal in Los Angeles port last Tuesday but spread to six other terminals and Long Beach the next day.
About 10,000 ILWU members have honored the picket call, shutting down 10 of the 14 cargo container terminals at the complex.
The striking clerical workers said they had been without contracts since June 2010, and the two sides had argued over whether or not the employers could outsource the jobs of union workers who retired or left for other employment.
The strike raised concerns that closure of the ports could further hobble the already sluggish US economy and dent expected gains from the holiday season.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) noted that the recovery from a 10-day lockout of West Coast ports in 2002 took six months and cost the economy an estimated $1 billion a day.
More than 95 percent of cargo passing through Los Angeles is traded with Asia, mainly with China and Japan, according to its website, which put the value of 2011 cargo trade with China/Hong Kong at $136 billion.
The Long Beach port supports over 30,000 jobs locally, 316,000 jobs in southern California and 1.4 million jobs throughout the United States, according to its website.
The strike had forced container ships to divert to other ports in California, notably Oakland, up the coast near San Francisco, and Mexico.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that US President Barack Obama was concerned about the West Coast strike.
“We — and that includes the president — continue to monitor the situation in Los Angeles closely and urge the parties to continue their work at the negotiating table to get a deal done as quickly as possible,” he said.





On Tuesday Villaraigosa said both sides had agreed to federal mediation, and that he had contacted Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen by phone.
It was not immediately clear what role if any the federal mediator had played in reaching Tuesday’s tentative agreement.
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Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

Updated 11 sec ago
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Inquiry into London’s Grenfell fire to hear bereaved speak of lost loved ones

  • While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January
  • The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history

LONDON: People who lost family and friends in the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 71 people in London last year, will pay tribute to their loved ones at the start of hearings at a public inquiry into the causes of the disaster.
Only a charred, gutted ruin remains of Grenfell Tower, a 24-story social housing block in a deprived pocket of the rich west London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, since it was engulfed by flames in the middle of the night of June 14, 2017.
The public inquiry faces the daunting task of establishing the root causes of the fire from eye-witness accounts, videos and photos, expert evidence and the paper trail of the tower’s history since it was built in the 1970s.
But before it delves into the details of what happened, the inquiry wants to give those bereaved by the disaster an opportunity to pay tribute to those they lost by talking about them publicly, or by showing photos or videos if they wish.
These commemoration hearings are expected to last nine days, although the schedule is uncertain as the inquiry has set no time limit for the tributes. They are expected to last between two minutes and over an hour.
The oral hearings into the circumstances of the fire will start later, on June 4.
The first commemoration will be of baby Logan Gomes, who was stillborn in hospital shortly after his heavily pregnant mother Andreia, who lived on the 21st floor, escaped from the fire. Andreia survived after she was put in an induced coma and treated for cyanide poisoning.
While the official death toll from the fire is 71, the inquiry will commemorate 72 people as it is including Maria del Pilar Burton, a resident of the tower who died in January, having never left hospital since she escaped from the fire.
The Grenfell Tower fire shocked Britain and led to an outpouring of angst over whether poor quality social housing and neglect by the authorities of a deprived, ethnically diverse community had played a part in the tragedy.
Separately from the public inquiry, the police are conducting an investigation into the fire which could result in criminal charges against organizations involved in the construction, maintenance or refurbishment of the tower, or against individuals.