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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
05/08/19 11:03

Cagliari workers accused Contship Italia of forethought

According to port workers, in the past two years the terminal operator occupied the port to prevent other operators from accessing it, while it was investing in the development of Tanger Med

CICT Cagliari International Container Terminal's workers accused Contship Italia of having planned to stop its activities long ago, and to have occupied the infrastructure facilities in the past two years only to keep competitors away. In the past weeks, the group headed by Cecilia Battistello and controlled by the German company Eurokai had announced its withdrawal from the Sardinian port, and the consequent collective redundancy procedure.  

The "open letter of the canal port workers" points out that "July has almost ended, and the winding up of the company Porto Industriale Cagliari S.p.A. (known as CICT, i.e. Cagliari International Container Terminal) scheduled for August the 31st 2019 is getting closer".

The terminal operator was blamed for its silence related to the issue: "in the past two years (in fact, the crisis started in May 2017) the company's top management (and its parent company Contship) simply encouraged us to 'have patience, we are looking for new customers"'.

According to port workers, the reasons adduced by CICT to justify its withdrawal from Cagliari are "absurd falsities which can be easily exposed".

The letter reads: "they say that the crisis is due to the market and to its changes, to the partnerships between customers, and especially to the inadequacy of Cagliari. In fact, they speak about 'limited spaces' and 'lack of modern railway and road infrastructures'. We, as workers, are determined to disprove it, or at least to show that the real cause for the crisis is very different. For instance, let us consider the areas around the ports of Tangier and Malta. Tangier, our current competitor as well as the port in which in the past 10 years Contship invested huge amounts of money, is surrounded by mountains and sea. The port handles thousands of containers every day and hundreds of ships every month, but it clearly does not have other areas available to expand”.

As concerns Malta, “it is an island like Sardinia, though with half of its inhabitants, with no land connections with a the Northern European market. However, Malta handles over 3 million containers per year! How is that possible? Malta deals with transhipment, which is the main activity carried out in Cagliari, but they say that transhipment is over and that consequently they can no longer work in Cagliari”.

“It is clear that the causes for the crisis are not those adduced by the Chairman. In fact, after having gained millions of euros without making investments in Cagliari, the company decided to focus on Tangier, as well as on Cyprus. [...] In the past two years, the company kept part of its activities in Cagliari only to prevent another possible competitor from hindering the development of Tangier. Meanwhile, it used part of CICT staff to train their Moroccan 'colleagues'”, canal port workers continued.

Also politicians were blamed: “They never kept the promises made over the years, thus causing huge delays in the development of the port, which in the past 15 years remained the same. However, they could put things right by immediately implementing the decisions which could finally solve this crisis. First of all, they should help workers through Wage Guarantee Funds, thus safeguarding jobs and ensuring the survival of over 200 families”. Port workers also asked for “all the necessary incentives to relaunch the port: Free Zone, SEZ (Special Economic Zone), significant reduction of port costs for at least 5 years. Finally, “Contship should be required to transfer its shares free of charge, as it obtained them in 2003 from the previous operator, in order to keep CICT alive while waiting for a new operator willing to invest in Cagliari”.