Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Costs mounting as teachers’ rail blockade halts service from Gulf ports

Rail blockades in Puebla and Michoacán are costing the private sector millions of pesos.

Members of the SNTE teachers union have blocked tracks in the Puebla municipality of Rafael Lara Grajales for the past nine days to demand the intervention of the federal government to ensure that new labor laws guaranteeing them the right to elect their union leaders in free and secret ballots are adhered to.

Their blockade has forced the rail firm Ferrosur to suspend service between Veracruz and the Valley of México. As a result, the company was unable to transport 440,000 tonnes of steel, foodstuffs (including perishables such as fruit), chemicals and auto parts on Thursday, the newspaper Reforma reported.

Ferrosur estimates that it has lost 12.5 million pesos (US $620,000) per day due to the blockade in Puebla.

“In nine days, we haven’t been able to move 144 trains and we haven’t been receiving goods from our customers for four days,” Lourdes Aranda, a spokesperson for Ferrosur’s parent company Grupo México, told Reforma.

“The warehouses of our clients in the port of Veracruz are saturated: there are more than 73,000 tonnes of goods stored there. The same thing is happening at Tierra Blanca and Coatzacoalcos, where we have 120,000 tonnes in both ports. There are also ships that haven’t been able to unload,” she said.

In light of the circumstances, Ferrosur has called on Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa to intervene and immediately order the clearing of the tracks.

Meanwhile in Michoacán, teacher training college students blocked tracks at two different points on the Lázaro Cárdenas-Morelia line during the past two days. The normalistas, as the students are known, say that they are protesting to demand the payment of scholarships they are owed and to pressure authorities to make more teaching positions available for graduates.

The Michoacán Industry Association said that 17 trains were stranded due to the students’ blockades on Wednesday and Thursday and estimated economic losses of 100 million pesos (US $5 million). The steel, automotive, agro-industrial and petroleum industries are among the worst affected.

The industry association urged authorities to immediately clear the tracks but the students continued their blockade on Friday morning before voluntarily withdrawing, according to a report by the news outlet Imagen Noticias.

Disgruntled normalistas also blocked train tracks in Michoacán for two days last October, causing economic losses of around 500 million pesos.

Source: Reforma (sp), Milenio (sp) 

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