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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
US court orders ports to reopen
Demonstrators supporting the dockers
Dockers have been locked out for 10 days
A federal court has granted an injunction sought by President George W Bush to halt a labour dispute at West Coast ports that has cost the economy up to $2bn (1.3bn) a day.


The current situation imperils our national health and safety

President Bush
Mr Bush said the dispute over the introduction of new technology had to end because it was damaging the country's economy and posing a threat to national security.

It is the first time in a quarter of a century that legislation known as the Taft-Hartley Act has been invoked, allowing the US president to intervene in industrial disputes.

The port employers who ordered a lock-out 10 days ago have welcomed government intervention, but labour unions are angry that the president appeared to have acted in the interests of big business.

Work to unload more than 200 ships waiting offshore is expected to begin later on Wednesday.

Disrupting the economy

Federal Judge William Alsup ordered an end to the lock-out, and set a fuller court hearing for a week's time.

Port of Long Beach
West coast ports have been idle
Judge Alsup agreed with Washington's argument that the dispute was endangering US industry and national health and safety saying that the west coast was "full of loaded ships and the docks are full of rotting perishables".

"It is abundantly clear that the present lockout ... affects entire industries," he added.

The government case called for an 80-day cooling-off period to allow for negotiations between unions and management.

Law invoked

The Pacific Maritime Association, a group representing port employers, said it had "no principled objections" to the government's request to invoke Taft-Hartley


No president has ever been on this side of management this overtly

Union official Richard Trumka
The president decided to invoke the Act after a board of inquiry told him: "We have no confidence that the parties will resolve the West Coast port dispute in a reasonable period of time."

Labour unions consider the Taft-Hartley Act to be anti-union legislation to resolve disputes.

"No president has ever been on the side of management this overtly," said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, a federation of 66 American labour organisations.

Mitsubishi Motors Manufacturing of America is just one of the companies to have been hit.

Spokesman Dan Irvin said car production would be suspended on Wednesday morning because it had run out of engines and transmissions.

The plant produces 850 cars a day.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Willis
"The dispute has been costing the US economy as much as $2bn a day"
President George W Bush
"This dispute cannot be allowed to further harm the economy"
Larry Wachter, Prudential Services, New York
"The damage has been extensive, in an economy that's already been tumbling"
See also:

07 Oct 02 | Business
08 Oct 02 | Business
07 Oct 02 | Business
08 Oct 02 | Business
03 Oct 02 | Business
01 Oct 02 | Business
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