Reuters | 17 July 2009
Unions call for world boycott of Honduran ships
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) — The International Transport Workers’ Federation called on its 4.5 million members on Friday to boycott ships flying the Honduran flag to protest the military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
The federation said its affiliated dockworkers will refuse to load and unload Honduran cargo ships, potentially affecting key exports from the impoverished Central American nation like coffee and textiles.
Zelaya was exiled by soldiers on July 28 after he defied his country’s Congress and Supreme Court by trying to extend presidential term limits. His ouster has been widely denounced and the interim government is not recognized internationally.
Multinational lenders halted aid programs to the country, but the United States — which has a free trade pact with the region — has suspended military cooperation but stopped short of more serious economic sanctions.
"We have to put real pressure on the Honduran military to allow the country to revert to democracy," David Cockroft, the federation’s general secretary said in a statement.
The protest action will focus on 650 ships that fly the Honduran flag, many of them from other countries that use it as a flag of convenience, according to the federation that groups 654 unions in 140 countries and has headquarters in London.
Honduras is Central America’s largest textile manufacturer and second largest coffee producer and sends most of its goods to the United States.
Honduras has already shipped the bulk of its coffee for the 2008/09 season but still has about 400,000 60-kg bags of coffee waiting in warehouses to be sent over the next couple months.
A spokesman for the longshoreman’s union that represents workers at ports along the western coast of the United States said it would be up to each local branch to decide whether to join the boycott or not.
(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg, editing by Anthony Boadle)