The Board of the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITF) Coordination Committee in Norway decided on October 16 to name the Port of Oslo a port of convenience. Following the decision, the Port of Oslo has become the first port in Europe to receive such a designation.
As informed, the move comes due to repeated violations of dockworkers’ and seafarers’ rights as well as pay and working conditions. Specifically, registered harbor workers have not been used for loading and unloading of cargo at the port. Instead, they have been replaced with underpaid seafarers to do their work.
The attack on workers’ rights at the port has been described as a breach of International Labor Organization’s (ILO) 137 Convention on Labor.
In June, ITF authorized the committee to make such a decision, however, the country’s federations asked ITF to postpone the decision until it was discussed with relevant authorities in Oslo.
Lars Morten Johnsen, the Head of the Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union, expressed his disappointment that the port authorities and politicians in Oslo have made such decision necessary, FriFagbevegelse reported.
The prevention of social dumping at the port and employing harbor workers again were conditions for not making the above decision. However, if this is achieved in the following period, the committee is ready to make a new decision, according to Johnsen.
“We thought a new city council would help us port workers, but it has only become worse,” Roar Langaard, Head of Oslo Dockworkers Association, was cited by FriFagbevegelse as saying.
On October 13, the Port of Oslo and the City Government in Oslo organized a dialogue meeting in an effort to prevent social dumping in the port.
“The City Government actively works to prevent social dumping. The purpose of the meeting is to prevent social dumping in the Port of Oslo” Raymond Johansen, Governing Mayor, pointed out at the meeting.
“Operators in the port who do not comply with laws and regulations may risk losing their lease. We expect port operators not to engage seamen for dock work without agreement with the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union. On suspicion of social dumping, we encourage everyone to report to the The Norwegian Maritime Authority,” Roger Schjerva, Chairman of the Port of Oslo board, said.
He further said that the board of Port of Oslo has agreed the ILO Convention 137 should be followed, but there is room for different interpretations of the convention. It is the Norwegian Government’s task to explain how the convention shall be implemented in Norway, according to Schjerva.
Reflecting on the committee’s decision to declare the Port of Oslo port of convenience, Schjerva stressed it is “totally unreasonable” as the port and the Oslo Municipality have used all means aimed at stopping social dumping.
Apart from the Port of Oslo, Australian Barrow Island and Somalian Mogadishu ports were earlier declared by ITF ports of convenience.
World Maritime News is yet to receive comments on the matter from relevant unions in Norway.
World Maritime News Staff