February 20 - In a dawn raid on Monday February 18, dock workers at South America's largest port invaded the Chinese heavy lift vessel, Zhen Hua 10.

The vessel was preparing to unload equipment, including three ship-to-shore gantry cranes for the new private container and liquid bulk terminal of Embraport (Empresa Brasileira de Terminais Portuarios) at Santos, Brazil.

Some 46 dockers boarded the ZPMC-owned 45,323 dwt ship while she was berthed at the Embraport facility, on Barnabe Island, on the left bank of the port of Santos, as a protest against the loss of jobs at Brazil's leading ports.

The occupation still continues today (February 20) and Red Cross workers have been allowed on board with food and water as the protestors had not taken any on board with them.

One union leader said the boarding was partly to protest against Chinese crew/workers being used to unload the cargo, and also the beginning of a tranche of protests against new port legislation from Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff.

Paulo Pereira da Silva, who is the president of the Forca Sindical Labor Union and also a Congressman, told local media in Brazil that Embraport appeared to be using Chinese labour to unload their handling equipment, which "may be interpreted as illegal under current Brazilian Law".

Brazilian trade unions have been promising for almost a month that strike action against the government's plans would follow the end of the country's world-famous Carnival celebrations.

Carnival ended last Saturday, and now this invasion will be backed up by a six-hour stoppage in Santos this Friday (February 22), and a possible nationwide port strike over the next few weeks.